ELEGANT CLINTON OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
If you plan to collect something as fragile as White House China, or own just one piece, proper handling and storing are critical. Your beautiful porcelain has a rich history and will continue to have a long life if you are careful to protect it.
The most common cause of damage to fine porcelain is mishandling. The easiest way to avoid that is to handle pieces as little as possible. However, sometimes you have to touch items. For example, renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx says he sometimes removes pieces to re-photograph them, to clean individual items or the display shelves, to rearrange a display. Here are his recommendations for handling your White House China in the most protective way.
RARE FDR OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.
Above all: “Fingerprints are a total no-no on porcelain,” he warns. Never touch without first washing your hands, because oily fingerprints can damage some types of decorative finishes.
First, before you do anything else, Mr. Amyx says it is important to take photos of your entire display case. That way, you will know precisely how each item was positioned so you can replace everything just as it was. Without the photos, it will be harder than you realize to recall little details.
BACK OF MONROE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA DESSERT PLATE - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.
Mr. Amyx also maintains a detailed inventory of each piece in his collection. A sticker on the back or bottom shows its initial purchase information and its ID number, which links it to a specific storage box where the piece is packed away if it is not on display. Mr. Amyx also maintains files that contain photos of each piece and details of its known history. A master list tells him at a glance where every item is. One copy stays with him, one copy goes in each storage box.
- Plan ahead – know what you’re going to do with the piece before you pick it up.
- Remove any jewelry that might cause damage, such as a wristwatch, bracelet or rings.
- Be sure your hands are clean and dry as noted above. You can also wear gloves – nitrile or vinyl, not cotton, to ensure you have a good grip. Mr. Amyx does not use gloves, but he uses “handi-wipes” with alcohol to clean his hands every three or four pieces.
- Always pick up a piece by the body, not a smaller part that protrudes such as handles, a spout or a finial. Use both hands.
- If the item is a set – a cup and saucer, or a covered tureen, for instance – always move each piece separately. Never treat the set as a single unit, for handling or storage.
STUNNING REAGAN OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
Most porcelain is tolerant of a wide variety of conditions. However, some can be very sensitive to extreme temperature or humidity fluctuations, which can cause cracking, or to bright light from the sun or spotlights, which can cause decoration to fade. If your piece has a flaw or has been restored, that area may be more vulnerable to damage from handling or cleaning. Vibration can also cause problems if it’s enough to cause displayed items to shift into one another or fall.
- Do not hang plates on the wall.
- Make sure display cabinets have stable shelves.
- Set items on a soft cloth such as felt or chamois, to protect both the item and the shelf.
- Display plates on stands made of acrylic, wood, or coated with plastic or another soft, cushiony material. Stands should be the proper size to hold the item securely but not too tightly. Never use bare metal for mounts or shelving.
- You can also use commercial mounting wax to secure items on shelves, but it can stain some types of porcelain and it will have to be cleaned off if you want to move the piece.
- Never use tape to hold lids or stoppers in place, because it can leave a residue and also damage some types of decoration such as gilt.
- Do not locate display cabinets near high-traffic areas (especially if flooring is not carpeted) because this can increase risk from vibration.
- Do not display pieces out in the open or on window sills where they will be vulnerable to reaching around or other normal everyday movements.
REGAL LINCOLN OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
- Never put White House China in the dishwasher or use caustic or abrasive cleaners, especially bleach.
- Wash only one piece at a time.
- First, brush the piece with a dry artist’s paint brush to remove any dust.
- Place a towel or sponge in the bottom of a plastic basin, then use warm (not hot) and a mild detergent to gently clean.
- Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry on a towel.
- Keep in mind that gilding, luster and hand-painted decorations are softer than the porcelain and can become abraded if washed too harshly or too often.
Impact damage is the greatest risk for pieces of White House China. The best way to protect your beautiful investment is to handle it sparingly and clean and display it properly.
Distinguished historian and collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce and rare pieces of Official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for nearly 40 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.