EXTRAORDINARILY RARE 1861 ABRAHAM LINCOLN OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA DOUBLE HANDLED PLATTER - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has added a rare new platter to his renowned collection of Official White House China. In a collection where every piece of porcelain can easily be described as special, this diminutive oval serving platter is truly remarkable. It is small – just 8-1/2” by 12” – with handles at each end. It is exquisitely beautiful. And it is extraordinarily rare.
The platter was designed and manufactured in 1861 as part of the Official White House China service commissioned by President Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. Mr. Amyx says there couldn’t have been more than three or four of these small platters in the original china service, perhaps even fewer. That, along with its Presidential and White House provenance, explains why the platter is so rare.
But it has another feature that, while not unique, adds historical interest. The bottom is flat and unglazed, whereas most serving platters have a slightly concave shape and are glazed on the underside. In the days when President Lincoln was entertaining state guests at dinner in the White House, there was no such thing as tableside warmers, such as we have nowadays. The Lincoln platter’s flat, unglazed verso allowed it to be set directly on top of a hot wood stove, in order to keep food warm.
Raleigh DeGeer Amyx recently acquired this platter from a private party, not from an auction house. That isn’t unusual, given his reputation as a respected collector of Official White House China. “Pieces gravitate toward me,” he acknowledges, “due to my experience and good fortune.” Mr. Amyx has worked hard to fuel his good fortune by establishing personal relationships with individuals who have information and referrals to owners of White House China they might like to sell.
EXTRAORDINARILY RARE 1879 RUTHERFORD B. HAYES OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA SOUP BOWL FEATURES AN IMPRESSIVE HAND-PAINTED AMERICAN CAMPFIRE SCENE - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
But it was Mr. Amyx’s reputation as a collector of White House China that earned him this particular contact. He was approached via email, by a woman who said she had two plates that had been part of the Presidential China service when Rutherford B. Hayes was in office. Might Mr. Amyx be interested in purchasing them? (He was!) And, by the way, she noted, she also had a small platter from the 1861 Lincoln service. Might he be interested in that as well? Raleigh DeGeer Amyx couldn’t believe his good fortune!
Over time, advanced collectors who are passionate develop finely-tuned instincts. So, when something comes along that might be of interest, those instincts kick in. When Mr. Amyx learns of a potential “find,” he wants to know five things about that porcelain: its history, rarity, value, condition, and the quantity originally manufactured.
EXTRAORDINARILY RARE 1879 RUTHERFORD B. HAYES OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA DINNER PLATE FEATURES A LOVELY HAND-PAINTED COLORADO ROCKY MOUNTAIN MULE DEER - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
“I had never seen a Lincoln platter anywhere,” Mr.Amyx says. Sight-unseen, though, he still knew something important about the piece – it was definitely rare. And given the platter’s size and purpose, it was one of very few ever made. However, he says the only way to judge all five criteria of a potential acquisition is to talk to the owner. In this case, she emailed him a picture of the platter. “It was a crummy photo,” Mr. Amyx recalls, “but I could still tell it was really something.”
He was surprised she hadn’t chosen to sell her Presidential porcelain through an auction house such as Sotheby’s or Christie’s. But he was quite pleased she had decided to contact him directly instead. It pays to be well-known and well-trusted in your field! After some discussion, the owner agreed to send all three pieces – the two Hayes plates and the Lincoln platter – to Mr. Amyx so he could evaluate them up close. And the rest, as they say, is history, and the three stunning examples of Official White House china now reside in The Raleigh DeGeer Amyx Collection.
Distinguished historian and 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 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.