When we talk about the historical importance and collectible value of White House China, we are usually speaking of the dinnerware used for formal state occasions. That is Official White House China. Many American Presidents have chosen a new design for their Official White House China, leaving the service behind as part of their Executive Mansion legacy.
Nancy Reagan loved the color red. And, as First Lady, she wanted to make a statement with her Official White House China. So it’s no surprise that the design she helped create for the Reagan administration’s official state dinners featured a bold, scarlet border on an ivory ground, along with gold accents and a raised gold depiction of the Presidential arms in the center of each plate. This dinnerware coordinated beautifully with the State Dining Room’s white walls and gilded accessories.
STUNNING STATE DINNER PLATE WITH BOLD SCARLETT RED BAND FROM THE REAGAN OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
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Although the design is undeniably elegant, no other Official White House China has been quite this “brash” in color. The 4,732-piece dinner service for 220 people was manufactured by the famous American company, Lenox, at a cost of cost $210,399 – paid for from donations solicited by Mrs. Reagan.
But Official White House China is normally not used for everyday purposes. So what did President Ronald Reagan and his First Lady use for other types of gatherings – or perhaps for the rare occasion when they were able to dine alone? A lovely but far more sedate design produced by Fitz and Floyd. Acquired in 1983, this unofficial White House China features a wide cobalt blue band, with the presidential seal at the top of each plate. There is a narrow gold rim and a gold band with dots just inside the blue border. In fact, the design of this china service is actually a modified version of Fitz and Floyd’s “Starburst” pattern.
In December of 1983, the New York Times announced, “The White House has accepted a gift of 215 place settings of gold-rimmed china, worth at least $23,650, for use in an aides' dining room, on Air Force One and at Camp David.” This unofficial china was also used when President Reagan and Vice President Bush met for their private weekly luncheons. Robert Floyd, president of Fitz and Floyd, offered to donate the china service when he learned the White House was in need of everyday dishes.
SAMPLE VERSO MARKING FROM THE REAGAN UNOFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION AS PICTURED ABOVE AND BELOW - WHITE HOUSE SERVICE BY ROBERT C. FLOYD, FITZ AND FLOYD, INC. FINE CHINA 1983
Floyd received a thank-you letter from President Reagan, in which the President wrote, “Let me express my sincere gratitude for the magnificent crested china to be used in the White House, at Camp David, and aboard Air Force One. The workmanship is outstanding, and I deeply appreciate the time and skill you and your staff devoted to crafting these fine pieces of china. Your gift will be a welcome addition to the White House and will always serve as a special reminder of our friendship.”
RONALD REAGAN - IMPOSING 12-INCH SERVICE PLATE AS MANUFACTURED BY FITZ & FLOYD IN 1983 - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
In addition to the obvious design differences, these two china collections can be distinguished by their very different verso markings. The official service is marked in simple block print: Lenox, Made in USA, THE WHITE HOUSE 1981. The unofficial service is marked in script: White House Service by Robert C. Floyd, Fitz and Floyd, Inc., Fine China, 1983.
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.