Our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, was known throughout much of his public career as “Old Man Eloquent.” He worked tirelessly to support causes he believed just, using words as well as actions to shape the country’s future. So it’s no surprise that the White House China which represents his presidency is also eloquent in its own way.
The JQ Adams china speaks of history. It is illustrated with Etruscan-inspired designs – beautifully hand-rendered antique cameo reserves, medallions, and leafy arabesques. Some pieces feature different designs that call to mind marine life, with seahorses, seashells and other motifs. The china speaks of elegance, using extensive gold trim to offset the colorful yet muted illustrations. The overall impression is one of delicacy and grace, yet the china service no doubt created a powerful presence for presidential guests.
IMPRESSIVE RARE SQUARE SHALLOW SERVING PIECE FROM THE JOHN QUINCY ADAMS WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION - CIRCA 1800 TO 1814 - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
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White House China from the John Quincy Adams era is very rare. By now, surviving pieces are about 200 years old. The exact date this porcelain was manufactured is not known, but historians and collectors believe it was probably produced somewhere around 1800-1814.
John Quincy Adams served as president from 1825 to 1829. His direct descendant Mary Louisa Adams Clement, who passed away in 1950, stated she believed the china was purchased in France while Adams was serving as American Ambassador to Russia. He held that position from 1809 to 1814.
Verso markings are not particularly helpful, either, when it comes to investigating the provenance of JQ Adams china. Often these markings appear on the bottoms of plates or other pieces and clearly identify the manufacturer, the designer, and/or the date of production. In the case of some presidential collections, verso markings actually state “White House China” or something similar.
But for the Adams service, markings are ambiguous. Some pieces appear to have a faint white line and incised initials. Some have a mark that looks like a pair of crossed arrows. And some are unmarked. This seems to indicate the “set” of dinnerware might have been pulled together from multiple factories, then meticulously decorated later on.
ELEGANT RARE ONE-PIECE CUSTARD CUP FROM THE JOHN QUINCY ADAMS WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION - CIRCA 1800 TO 1814 - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
The fact that any of this lovely dinnerware still exists is in part a tribute to Mary Louisa Adams Clement’s generosity. In early times, White House China was often deliberately destroyed when it aged out of service and was replaced. This practice prevented the older pieces from being sold.
However, Mary Louisa Adams Clement possessed several pieces of the Adams service, likely handed down through family generations. She donated them to The Smithsonian Institution, to help create the Adams-Clement Collection. Other pieces are housed in collections at the White House, The Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx also owns another exquisite example of this rare White House China – an oval saucer and round custard cup set.
World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for more than 35 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.