THE IMPRESSIVE ANDREW JACKSON 12 7/8" FULL LENGTH HAND-CUT WINE DECANTER - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
Just because a decanter serves a functional purpose doesn’t mean it can’t be exceptionally lovely too. Ever since the introduction of the glass decanter -- around 1700, created so British wine drinkers could see and remove the sediment in their unfiltered French and Italian red wines – glassblowers and artists have felt the urge to decorate these vessels. But it’s hard to imagine any more beautiful result than the Andrew Jackson cut crystal wine decanter that resides in the Raleigh DeGeer Amyx Collection.
Anyone familiar with Official White House China knows that Mr. Amyx is one of the nation’s premier collectors of this unique and historic porcelain memorabilia. Through the years, he has indeed focused on porcelain – exceptional examples of the plates, bowls, and serving pieces commissioned and used by America’s Presidents. Occasionally, however, a rare non-porcelain opportunity presents itself.
A CLOSE-UP OF THE ARTISTICALLY HAND-CUT SEAL AS ACCOMPLISHED BY SKILLED ARTISTS WITH THE BAKEWELL & PAGE COMPANY IN 1829
SEE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA HERE
When Andrew Jackson took office as our 7th President in 1829, he determined there was no need to order new official china to use for state dinners. But he did commission a 435-piece service of custom-designed crystal glassware, including water bottles and water glasses, celery vases, wine glasses, and wine decanters. The order was placed with the Bakewell & Page Company of Pittsburgh.
In the 1900s, Pittsburgh was considered the epicenter of American glassmaking, thanks in large part to Benjamin Bakewell, who started making luxury engraved glassware shortly after the turn of the century. His company also produced a collection of glassware for President James Monroe in 1817.
GENERAL ANDREW JACKSON (1767-1845)
OUR 7TH PRESIDENT (1829-1837)
The pieces commissioned by Andrew Jackson were all hand-blown, hand-cut, and hand-engraved. They featured a circlet of grape vines and a depiction of the Presidential Seal. Interestingly, the federal eagle that forms the centerpiece of this official seal breaks with tradition. Usually, the eagle is shown holding arrows in its left talons and an olive branch on the right, symbolizing the balance between power and peace. However, on the Jackson glassware, the eagle holds a laurel branch and a palm frond on the right – both symbolizing victory.
We don’t know whether President Jackson himself requested the change, or if it was a result of artistic license taken by Bakewell’s designer. Because this glassware was produced almost 200 years ago, it’s hard to imagine that many pieces remain, though the White House historic collection does include a few rare examples. So how did Raleigh DeGeer Amyx acquire such a rare Presidential decanter?
This particular piece was still in use at the White House when Theodore Roosevelt became President. As he was known to do from time to time, President Roosevelt presented the decanter to his good friend and military aide, Major Archibald Butt, who had also served as an aide to President Taft. In fact, it was William Howard Taft who delivered the eulogy at Major Butt’s funeral after the sinking of the Titanic, on which the Major had been an ill-fated passenger.
THE EXQUISITE MONOGRAMMED CRYSTAL OF PRESIDENT WARREN G. HARDING - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
Before his death, however, Archibald Butt passed the decanter along to Ethel Carow Roosevelt Derby, Theodore Roosevelt’s fourth child, along with a hard-written note. Mrs. Derby willed the decanter to her daughter, Edith Roosevelt Derby Williams, who kept it until her death in 2008.
Families have two options when it comes to estate disposition, says Raleigh DeGeer Amyx. They can use an auction house, but that process can take several months and there is a risk that the auction house or auctioneer might not describe pieces well enough to draw the best price. Alternatively, there is the chance of a private sale, which might be concluded to the benefit of everyone, quickly. These days, a potential seller, or an attorney representing the estate, can search online to find a potential buyer. Because Mr. Amyx’s expertise and collection are so prominent, these individuals sometimes contact him.
THE ELEGANT HAND-CUT CRYSTAL AS ORDERED BY FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
And that’s how the Jackson decanter made the most recent leg of its multi-presidential journey. The Jackson decanter is not only elegant, rare, and uniquely historic, it fits nicely within the Raleigh DeGeer Amyx Collection. After all, glassware is something of a “cousin” to Official White House China, says Mr. Amyx, because it is also essential tableware at Presidential state dinners. The Amyx Collection also includes cut crystal from the Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harding presidencies, a finger bowl and cordial glasses.
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.