PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ADMIRING HIS PRESIDENTIAL CUP
The White House Gift Shop and online store are replete with souvenir coffee cups. You can even order one version with your own name printed below the White House logo. But while these mementos of a visit to America’s Executive Mansion might be fun to own, none of these cups is the real deal. Official White House China is used only by the President, alone, or with his official guests.
When considering White House China, it is easy to focus on the extraordinary, unique beauty of the plates in each collection, overlooking other pieces within the service that are equally lovely and appealing in their own way. Presidential cups and saucers are a good example. Renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx says collecting these items has particular value, from two standpoints.
LOVELY CUP & SAUCER FROM THE BARACK OBAMA OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION
First, the cup and saucer are considered a fundamental element of any set of porcelain. As an illustration, when famed porcelain manufacturer Lenox does public presentations about their china around the country, they always feature Presidential china they have designed. Those displays always include a cup and saucer.
RICH WHITE, IVORY, AND 3-D GOLD 1918 WOODROW WILSON CUP & SAUCER - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
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Second, because there are two pieces that make up the cup-and-saucer set, there is double the opportunity for part of the set to become broken or cracked over time. Without both pieces, the set has lesser value. Intact sets are scarce and, therefore, of more value. They will be more expensive because the collector must purchase two separate pieces.
IMPRESSIVE F.D.R. OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA CUP & SAUCER - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
Raleigh DeGeer Amyx owns numerous cup-and-saucer examples including those belonging to Presidents Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Reagan, and Clinton. As a collector, he has tried to follow the Lenox example, working to acquire at least a dinner plate, service plate and cup and saucer from each President’s Official White House China service. Then he would look for additional pieces – mindful as always that he can only collect what becomes available, thru auction or through his own detective work and reputation.
ELEGANT HARRY S. TRUMAN OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA FULL SERVICE SETTING, INCLUDING CUP & SAUCER - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
However, there is more to the Presidential cup and saucer story than the porcelain used to serve guests at formal meals.
Some Presidential china collections have included demitasse cups and saucers as well as the larger standard coffee/tea cups and saucers. Mr. Amyx always tries to collect demitasse cups whenever they become available – as long as they meet his standard of pristine condition. He’s willing to pay more, he says, but the demitasse sets are rare and hard to come by. He also admits to a special personal appreciation of these daintier cups, too. They are prettier to look at, he says, in part because of their shape.
STUNNING RONALD REAGAN OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CUP & SAUCER - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
Orders of White House China that included both types of cups and saucers almost always included far more standard cups than the smaller demitasse version. There is at least one exception to that, however. When Ronald and Nancy Reagan ordered their stunning red and gold White House China, there were 19 pieces in each place setting, including a demitasse cup and saucer. However, Mrs. Reagan also ordered 60 extra demitasse cups.
ORNATE BILL CLINTON OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA CUP & SAUCER - THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
The espresso machine was introduced in 1901, and the cappuccino coffee drink was created about that same time. This might explain why demitasse cups and saucers were more commonly ordered by Presidents in the 20th century than by their predecessors.
Long before the invention of cappuccino, though, ladies often got together for hot chocolate. This delicacy was also consumed in demitasse cups. It is easy to picture early First Ladies enjoying a hot chocolate while entertaining a few friends or the wives of visiting dignitaries from around the world.
HANDSOME COFFEE MUG FROM THE REAGAN OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA - THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
When it’s time to get down to business, Presidential coffee (or, presumably, tea) is served in large mugs without saucers. This china also bears distinctive decoration and markings, often matching that President’s formal china pattern and always bearing the Presidential seal on at least one side. These mugs are used in the Oval Office and its nearby small dining room and, no doubt, in the family’s private quarters as well.
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.