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Bone China: Is it just a name or is there actually bone in the china?

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 @ 09:30 AM

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THIS NEAR PRISTINE CONDITION DINNER PLATE FROM THE GEORGE WASHINGTON COLLECTION IS CONSIDERED TO BE "THE HOLY GRAIL" OF A WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION - FROM THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

When collectors talk about White House China, what do they really mean? The word “china” is now commonly used to refer to any type of fine-quality dishes, but we also hear terms like porcelain and bone china. It is interesting to contemplate where these terms came from and how they apply – or not – to the dinnerware designed and enjoyed by our presidents for almost 250 years.

All ceramics are basically baked clay -- a versatile material used for making numerous objects besides dinnerware. Ceramic dinnerware produced around the world tends to reflect the types of clay available locally, so we often see dishes made of stoneware (heavier, more heavily textured clay) or terracotta (the soft, reddish clay found in Mexico and Latin America). However, in order to achieve the prettier, more delicate qualities of “fine china” demanded by presidents and other upper-echelon society members, dishes must be made of porcelain or bone china.

Today, the terms china and porcelain are interchangeable. China is made from a combination of clay, kaolin (another type of soft, white clay), feldspar and quartz and sometimes other materials. The specific composition determines the color, density and texture of the finished piece. The process of producing high-quality dishes originated more than a thousand years ago in China, therefore the name. Today we use the term with a lowercase “c” to designate any type of fine dinnerware.

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THIS EXTREMELY RARE AND INTRICATE JAMES MADISON LOZENGE SERVING DISH WAS MANUFACTURED BY NAST'S FACTORY PARIS - A RARE EXAMPLE FROM THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

 

As we look back to the early White House years, we find official White House China that literally came from that country. However, most presidential dinnerware in the ensuing years has been manufactured in Europe (primarily France) or the United States. 

The term porcelain has always been used to refer to “china” made in Europe or elsewhere outside the country of China. The word is derived from “porcella,” a Latin word that means sea-shell, in honor of its bright white, smooth and lustrous appearance. Very early European porcelain was originally made with ground glass, but shortly after 1700, German producers replaced the glass with feldspar, which is still used today.

Bone china is produced from the same ingredients as porcelain, with the addition of finely ground ash from cow bones – anywhere from 25% to 50% bone ash. Because the ash has a slightly off-white color, bone china has a distinctive “milky” appearance. Take your family china out of the cupboard and look for the words, "bone china" - surprise! You probably have more cow bone in your home than you ever dreamed.

Adding bone ash also makes the finished pieces appear translucent rather than opaque like traditional porcelain. Bone china is sometimes referred to as “fine china,” although this term is also commonly used to differentiate between any type of finer quality pieces and stoneware, terracotta and so on.

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ULYSSES S. GRANT HAD AN AFFINITY FOR CHINESE PORCELAIN. THIS FISH PLATE IS ONE OF THE MANY PURCHASES THAT THE GENERAL AND MRS. GRANT MADE DURING THEIR 1879 TOUR OF EUROPE. THIS RARE EXAMPLE FROM THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION.

Porcelain is typically fired at a temperature between 2300oF and 2400oF, or even hotter. Although it is very delicate looking -- thin and lightweight – it is actually quite durable, making it ideal for dishes as well as decorative items.

Bone china is fired at a slightly lower temperature, about 2200oF. The result is a product that is softer (relatively speaking), which actually makes it stronger because it is less brittle. For that reason, bone china is especially resistant to cracking and chipping or breakage.

Collectors use the term porcelain to refer to all White House China, regardless of its composition. Although the official White House collection includes both porcelain and bone china pieces, there is no set of presidential china that is composed solely of bone china.

RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX|JEFFERSON CHINA|PRESIDENTIAL CHINA|WHITE HOUSE CHINA|RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR 

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of sparse 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 as well as 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.

SELECT PRESIDENTIAL ITEMS TO BE OFFERED

Tags: Bone China

How Thomas Jefferson's Bankruptcy nearly lost his Presidential China

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Aug 06, 2015 @ 10:00 AM

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THIS NEAR PRISTINE SHALLOW SOUP BOWL FEATURES THOMAS JEFFERSON'S NEOCLASSICAL SHIELD STUDDED WITH THIRTEEN GUILT STARS AND THE SCRIPT INITIAL "J." - CURRENTLY IN THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

The exact provenance of the dinnerware known as Thomas Jefferson’s Chinese Export "J." Dinner Service is unknown. Modern researchers have not found explicit records of this porcelain in Jefferson's papers, although his direct lineal descendants in the 19th century remembered and discussed this particular dinnerware. The service – which later became Jefferson’s official White House China when he served as president from 1801-1809 – has an interesting history.

Around 1790, when Thomas Jefferson was living at Monticello, he sought to purchase a set of china personalized with his initials. At the time, agents in New York or Europe were used to help arrange import of prestigious Asian merchandise, because dishware manufacturers in Europe, mainly around Paris, were only just learning how to produce fine china.

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MONTICELLO: THOMAS JEFFERSON'S EXPANSIVE PLANTATION, JUST OUTSIDE CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA

Thomas Jefferson was chronically in debt throughout his life.  The concept of bankruptcy didn’t exist in his day, and Thomas Jefferson would very likely have landed in debtors’ prison had he not been so famous. To his good fortune, because he was well-known, Jefferson was able to borrow money from sources inclined to look the other way when repayment was due. By the time of his death, Jefferson owed more than $107,000 – equal to about two million dollars today.

 In Jefferson’s day, families of means passed along their wealth – including slaves they owned as well as other “assets” -- to the oldest son. This assured the family name and estate would remain intact from one generation to the next. Sadly, at the time of his death in 1826, Jefferson had been predeceased by all but one of his children, a daughter named Mary Randolph. She inherited his estate, but also his enormous debt.

Within 60 days, Mary Randolph arranged an auction to pay off the debt. With the assistance of her son, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, and daughter, Ellen Wayles Randolph, she sold 140 slaves and virtually all Jefferson’s household furnishings, including the now-called “J.” White House China. She and her husband did buy back a few items for themselves, but it is unknown whether that included any of the “J.” china.  Monticello itself – the home and land – eventually sold four years later.

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AN EXTRAORDINARY SERVING TUREEN WITH 4 HAND-PAINTED NEOCLASSICAL "J." MONOGRAMS - NOW IN THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

Historians and collectors don't really know how much china Thomas Jefferson owned altogether - what types of pieces or how many.  He could have had three or four different sets with differing patterns, but the only service historians are sure of is the set with the “J.” initial. Interestingly, this china did not have an entirely original design. Only the monogrammed area on the plate distinguishes these pieces from china owned and used by others during the same time period.

More than a half-century after Jefferson’s estate was sold off, the grandson of Ellen Wayles Randolph reacquired at least some of the original “J.” china service, and in 1909 he donated four pieces to the official White House collection, where they remain today.

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AN IMPRESSIVE CIDER JUG WITH AN INTRICATE INCLUSION OF THOMAS JEFFERSON'S OFFICIAL SEAL - "REBELLION TO TYRANTS IS OBEDIENCE TO GOD"

There is another piece of surviving “J.” Chinese Export China now in the collection of the Cincinnati Art Museum. It is a cider jug which has an additional decoration in the form of Thomas Jefferson’s personal motto, “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.” Many prominent officials of that era believed it was personally and professionally important to have a personal motto, and Jefferson used his as his Official Seal during much of his life.

The Raleigh DeGeer Amyx collection includes several very fine pieces from the “J.” china service, including a covered casserole, serving bowl, meat platter, soup bowls and dinner plates.

RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX|JEFFERSON CHINA|PRESIDENTIAL CHINA|WHITE HOUSE CHINA|HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR - RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - WITHIN HIS LIBRARY 

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of 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 as well as 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.

SELECT PRESIDENTIAL ITEMS TO BE OFFERED

Tags: Thomas Jefferson

The History of White House China Verso Markings in the 19th Century

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Jul 16, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, few cared much about differentiating one china manufacturer from another. Certainly nobody could have predicted that any porcelain dinnerware would have outstanding historical significance 150 or 200 years later. As a result, early White House china purchased from French manufacturers during this period typically carried no verso markings. However, the back sides of plates were not necessarily consistent, and on unusual occasions when makers did use a mark, it was usually applied with a rubber stamp and made permanent with a clear overglaze. 

During this period, there was no uniform effort to record the manufacturer from which dishes were procured, nor were there formal comparisons made of different manufacturers’ work. So there is no research left behind for historians and collectors to reference, if any was ever done.

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PRESIDENT BENJAMIN HARRISON'S WHITE HOUSE CHINA VERSO MARKINGS

As French dinnerware became more popular in the 1800s, the number of porcelain manufacturers and decorating studios in and around Paris continued to increase. Nonetheless, China was still considered the leading source when it came to original artwork. With thousands of years of experience decorating porcelain, the Chinese exhibited superior expertise in creating beautiful hand-painted plate faces. The front was the decorative focus because it was the part diners could see during their meal. All china was hand-painted, and anyone could plainly see the skill level simply by looking at a piece of their porcelain.

As the century progressed and European decorating quality improved, competition grew. Manufacturers began using verso marks to identify their work. To help protect their domestic industries, European countries began requiring country-of-origin markings on imports in the 1880s. The US Congress followed suit, passing the Tariff Act of 1890 that required all European imports to carry a stamp or other mark identifying their country of origin. The Tariff Act also significantly increased import duties, to almost 50%. Subsequently, Congress reduced those tariffs in 1894.

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EAMPLE OF VERSO MARKINGS APPEARING ON THE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA OF RONALD REAGAN

Even with the government-required country-of-origin markings in place, no one paid much attention to the decorations that appeared on the verso of china plates until the 20th century. Today, there is tremendous interest in those markings, because since the early 20th century there has been a growing desire to understand and preserve our nation’s past. Presidential historians and collectors of White House China want to know who made which dinnerware, and when. But modern-day “detectives” like Raleigh DeGeer Amyx, as well as White House Historians, often have little evidence to go by. 

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VERSO MARKINGS OF PRESIDENT EISENHOWER'S OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA

Auction houses sometimes are able to find information, but mainly what we know about dating White House china is based on extrapolation. For instance, Lincoln’s china had no verso markings, but Grant’s order of the same pattern did. McKinley ordered 36 assorted “Lincoln” plates, which arrived with different marks than those that had appeared on Grant’s order. But when multiple presidents used identical china, there is oftentimes no way to know which one used a particular plate or serving piece.

raleigh-degeer-amyx-in-libraryRALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN & COLLECTOR 

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of 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 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.

ATTENTION: SELL YOUR WHITE HOUSE CHINA  AND/OR PRESIDENTIAL CHINA.

Tags: WHITE HOUSE CHINA

George Washington and the Society of Cincinnati

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Jul 02, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

The porcelain dinnerware which ultimately became the very first set of White House China was actually designed by members of the Society of Cincinnati, one of whom was George Washington, for the Society’s own use. But most people don’t realize the Society of Cincinnati has a unique place in American history that goes far beyond these rare pieces of Chinese porcelain.

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THE EMBLEM OF THE SOCIETY OF CINCINNATI EXPERTLY HAND-PAINTED ON 1785 PORCELAIN DINNERWARE

The Society is America’s oldest private patriotic organization. It was founded in May 1783 after Congress dissolved the Continental Army, with membership restricted to American and French officers who had fought in the Revolutionary War. The organization was intended to “distinguish members as men of honor” and to:

  • Perpetuate the memory of Revolutionary War and promote its ideals.
  • Preserve friendships that had been formed among officers.
  • Advocate for officer compensation that had been promised by the new Congress.
  • Provide financial support for needy members and their families.

Membership eligibility was hereditary — passed down to each veteran member’s oldest son or “collateral descendant.” The organization was named in honor of Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus, a Roman statesman that Society founders felt was the “embodiment of civic virtue.” Cincinnatus was appointed dictator of Rome in 458 BC to lead the way in fighting off threats to the republic’s sovereignty. Having accomplished that, Cincinnatus walked away from power and quietly retired to his farm.

The Society of Cincinnati was created as a national entity with federated state societies, mirroring the structure of the newly-fledged United States. To fund charitable work, members were asked to contribute dues equal to one month’s pay. Although George Washington was not technically a founder of the Society, he joined early on and was elected the organization’s first President-General.

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GEORGE WASHINGTON PAINTED WEARING THE SOCIETY EMBLEM - THIS EMBLEM LATER APPEARING ON GEORGE WASHINGTON'S OFFICIAL PRESIDENTIAL CHINA

Within 10 years membership grew to 2,270 officers, with societies in all 13 original states as well as one in France. However, early critics claimed the Society was elitist – a hereditary aristocracy similar to royal houses in Europe that could potentially undermine or overthrow America’s new government. Concerned about these criticisms, George Washington reportedly discussed the situation with Thomas Jefferson, who recommended making changes to mollify detractors.

Accordingly, one year after the Society was formed, Washington proposed the organization eliminate the hereditary membership requirement. While this was officially accepted, not all state societies went along with the changes. During the first half of the 1800s, membership declined, dwindling to fewer than 300.

WASHINGTON-CHINA-PHOTO-1-POST-RESTORATION-4-27-14NEAR-PRISTINE DINNER PLATE OF GEORGE WASHINGTON'S, IN THE COLLECTION OF RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX 

To revive interest, membership eligibility requirements were again changed – expanded to allow descendants of all qualified officers to join, even if their eligible forebears had not joined the organization. This so-called “Rule of 1854” spurred growth by effectively doubling the number of potential “membership lines.” The Civil War put the Society on the back burner again, but America’s centennial celebration brought it back into the limelight. Every state society had been reconstituted by 1904, and the French Society was brought back into the fold in 1925.

In 1938, the Society of Cincinnati established a beautiful International Headquarters in Washington, DC. The current mission is to promote both academic and popular interest in the people and actions that made American independence possible. The organization also continues to foster fellowship among its members.

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THE IMPOSING SOCIETY OF CINCINNATI HEADQUARTERS LOCATED IN THE ANDERSON HOUSE, WASHINGTON, D.C.

Today, you can visit the Society’s headquarters and their American Revolution Institute to use their extensive library that includes a world-class collection of books and manuscripts relating to the Revolutionary War. You can also tour their museum to see art and artifacts that depict the Society’s history as well as the war. Among those artifacts, you can see a dinner plate from that first order of Chinese export porcelain – the 1784 dinnerware that later became George Washington’s Official White House China.

 Raleigh_in_Library_small_72RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN & COLLECTOR

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of 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 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.

ATTENTION: SELL YOUR WHITE HOUSE CHINA  AND/OR PRESIDENTIAL CHINA.

Tags: George Washington

George Washington: White House China that Opened the China Trade

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 @ 08:00 AM

washington-portrait-with-swordA REMARKABLE MAN AND PRESIDENT - GEORGE WASHINGTON - THE FATHER OF OUR COUNTRY

It was our first president who started the tradition of Official White House China. However, not many people realize that George Washington’s quest for the finest quality tableware lead to the establishment of a lucrative new international trade route. 

Today, we use the word “china” as a synonym for “dishes,” but in George Washington’s time, China was the source of exquisite, hand-painted porcelain prized by the upper classes in Europe as well as in the American colonies. Porcelain was exported from China to Europe, and from there it was traded to the colonies.    

In 1783, George Washington and General Henry Knox formed the Society of Cincinnati, an organization exclusively for French and American officers who had fought in the Revolutionary War (and, later, their descendants). One of the organization’s first orders of business was to design a china pattern befitting such a Society.

Unfortunately, the colonies’ trading ability disintegrated in the 1770s as relations with Britain collapsed. And when America finally attained its independence after the Revolutionary War, the British retaliated by prohibiting key trade hubs from doing business the United States. President Washington and his associates were left to find alternatives to maintain and grow the new nation’s economy. That included finding a way to gain direct access to highly-desired Chinese porcelain.   

Major Samuel Shaw, another Revolutionary War veteran and former aide to General Knox, envisioned the opportunities that could come if America were able to trade directly with China, to import not only luxuries like beautiful porcelain but a variety of necessary everyday commodities. Tea was in short supply, among other things, because trade was no longer possible with the British West Indies.

Toward that end, a ship christened the Empress of China left New York City in 1784, headed for Canton (modern-day Guangzhou). It was Samuel Shaw who transported the Society of Cincinnati’s desired design to Chinese artists so they could produce the “Cincinnati dinnerware.”

 china1785 CHINESE PORCELAIN DINNERWARE WITH THE EMBLEM OF THE SOCIETY OF CINCINNATI

The ship returned from China the following year, under the command of then-Captain Samuel Shaw, carrying Chinese textiles, cinnamon, tea and approximately 64 tons of porcelain – including the new Society of Cincinnati dinnerware. Trade between the United States and China was officially underway. Within five years, 28 American ships had visited Canton.  

And what did the Empress of China deliver to the Chinese to launch the trading process? Ginseng -- 30 tons of it, mostly from the southern Appalachian mountains. It was the one American product would-be traders knew for certain would be well-received by the Chinese, because over-harvesting had virtually eradicated China’s own native ginseng.

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GEORGE WASHINGTON'S - 9 5/8" DINNER PLATE - IN NEAR PRISTINE CONDITION - ONE OF TWO FROM THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

And the rest is history. The china created for the Society of Cincinnati ultimately became the original Official White House China. George Washington personally used this dinnerware to entertain friends and dignitaries at his homes in New York City, Philadelphia and Mount Vernon. And today, this lovely china remains historically important as one of the earliest Chinese porcelains made specifically for the American trade.

RDA_LIBRARY_2009_4-11_raleigh-degeer-amyx-in-library2RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN & COLLECTOR

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of quality pieces of official White House china. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for more than three decades. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House 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.

ATTENTION: SELL YOUR WHITE HOUSE CHINA  AND/OR PRESIDENTIAL CHINA.

 

Tags: George Washington

What Will Collectors Think of the Barack Obama Official White House China?

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Fri, May 29, 2015 @ 08:45 AM

After approximately two plus years of planning and production, the newest collection of White House china was unveiled in April at a state dinner for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Renowned White House China collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx says it’s not unusual for presidents to wait until their second term to choose their official china.

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A SAMPLING OF PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA'S OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA

President Obama and the First Lady want to be represented in the White House China collection because, in part, it is historically important. However, ordering entirely new china is expensive – the 320 11-piece settings of Obama china reportedly cost more than $360,000 – so the cost is borne via private donations to the White House Historical Association’s White House Endowment Fund.

The china design was chosen in part for practicality – to blend harmoniously with existing patterns – but with a very personal twist. Michelle Obama told a reporter for Architectural Digest her goal was “to create a new modern, different, edgy kind of look.” White House curator William Allman, who worked with the First Lady on this project, said the design has a distinctly modern look “while continuing to draw on historic and traditional elements.”

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MICHELLE OBAMA ADMIRES THE DETAIL IN THEIR OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA SELECTION

Some of the pieces feature a color that represents Hawaii’s bluish-green waters, in honor of President Obama’s birthplace. The Obamas named it “Kailua Blue.” The color isn’t traditional, Mr. Amyx notes, but it is beautiful. Dinner plates feature a bas-relief design that mimics the pattern on James and Dolley Madison’s 1806 French china service.

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THE KAILUA BLUE IN PRESIDENT OBAMA'S WHITE HOUSE CHINA REPRESENTS HIS HAWAIIAN HERITAGE

The Obama china was made by Pickard China of Antioch, Illinois, the first time this firm has ever been selected to make Official White House China. While the collection is certainly historic, renowned White House China collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx says this china may not be so interesting to future collectors. The raised design on the dinner plates is unique, he says, yet the white-on-white presentation is lost, especially on a white tablecloth. Mr. Amyx believes that from a beauty point of view, the china could have been improved by using the Kailua Blue color for the raised border to provide contrast.

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PRESIDENT OBAMA ADMIRES HIS OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA CUP AS HE HOLDS HIS STANDARD MORNING PAPER COFFEE CUP IN HIS OTHER HAND

In addition, only a minority of pieces carry the presidential emblem – an eagle motif that a majority of past presidents have always used as the main visual element on the face of each plate, in the center or on the side. So there is nothing that says “presidential” about this china unless one looks at the verso.

If the china is less interesting to collectors, it will be less valuable to collectors.  Raleigh explains. The exception may very well be the minority of pieces that do carry the presidential emblem on the front. Typically, collectors want to acquire a service plate and the next size down. But in the case of the Obama china, the desirable emblem appears not on the very large all, white on white, dinner plate but on the second-largest plate, with the exception of the service plate (see below).

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THE LUXURIOUS SERVICE PLATE IN THE BARACK OBAMA WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION

The Obama service plate is a bright matte-finish gold and does feature a Presidential Coat of Arms on the front. Mr. Amyx says he would have added a circle of stars surrounding the emblem to make it “pop” more attractively, somewhat like the Harry S. Truman china. And he suggests the blue border could have been a bit wider. After all, he says, presidential china should be “elegant to all those who view it.” It should "really pop" and say “Hello, see me? I was selected by the President of the United States!”

raleigh-degeer-amyx-in-library

HISTORIAN & COLLECTOR - RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of pieces of official White House china. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for more than three decades. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House 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.

ATTENTION: SELL YOUR WHITE HOUSE CHINA  AND/OR PRESIDENTIAL CHINA.

Tags: Barack Obama White House China

The Story Behind Collecting Lincoln's White House China

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Tue, May 12, 2015 @ 01:00 PM

Collector and historian Raleigh DeGeer Amyx says it pays to be a little boy or girl for a long time – collecting things you like – because they can increase in value the longer you own them. You have to be a good judge of what has real potential, though. Take White House China, for example. James Monroe was the first president for whom Congress provided money to furnish the White House. Prior to that, presidents had to supply their own furnishings and dishes.

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A PRISTINE DINNER PLATE FROM ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S 1861 ORDER - THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

During Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, there were two varieties of White House china. One depicted broad wings on the front of the plate, the other was plain with a buff border. Monroe’s china had also featured a similar eagle, but the unusual shade of purple on the border, called solferino, was a special request from Mary Todd Lincoln, as it was her favorite color.

If a china pattern is very popular, like the Lincoln “wings” pattern, subsequent presidents want to order the same thing to replace chipped or broken pieces. The Lincoln china endured through several presidencies; however as it pertains to the marking on the verso. However, because some of the later orders were manufactured 5 or 10 years plus after the 1861 originals, there may be slight variations.

The back side of a china plate is referred to as the verso, and that’s where the difference lies. The original china ordered by the Lincolns in 1861 had a plain verso, with no markings. That continued with Andrew Johnson’s order. When Grant ordered more china, however, it came with a hand-painted maker’s mark on the verso. Chester Arthur’s order carried that same mark, so today collectors may not be able to tell which president ordered a particular Lincoln pattern.

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ABRAHAM LINCOLN - AMERICA'S 16TH PRESIDENT

Twenty-three years later, William McKinley wanted more of the same pattern. He ordered 36 pieces exactly the same, but once again the verso is different. These pieces are not plain like Lincoln’s original order, nor is the marking the same as the mark on Grant’s order.

None of these alterations were meant to be confusing or deceptive, it simply didn’t matter at the time. No one could have predicted 150 years ago that White House China would become highly valued by collectors, and that details such as distinguishing marks would become significant. However all variations are rare, and their values remain similar.

How did Raleigh DeGeer Amyx come by all of these fascinating examples of White House china? As a lifelong collector – and former FBI employee and investigator  he has developed excellent detective skills that have helped him track down more than 100 individuals who worked for various presidents in behind-the-scenes capacities.

During their work tenure, these people often acquire mementos of their White House experience, but then discover long after they retire that their children or grandchildren don’t feel the same connection with those collectibles or the stories behind them. They are happy to part with these pieces when they find someone who will cherish them and fairly renumerate them accordingly.

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A RARE SERVING PIECE FROM ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S MORE CONSERVATIVE BUFF CHINA SELECTION

This is how it was in the case of the Lincoln White House China. In speaking with a former White House maid, Mr. Amyx learned she had a Lincoln plate that had fractured into a dozen pieces, wrapped up in her underwear drawer at home. She sold him the pieces, and Mr. Amyx spent thousands of dollars to have an expert conservationist delicately restore the plate. Raleigh still has that plate and impressively, the fracture lines are almost indiscernible.

In his own collection, Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has multiple examples of the original Lincoln White House china in addition to one example of the Grant version and one of the McKinley era version. This White House china has special significance for Mr. Amyx, because he especially held Abraham Lincoln in high esteem. In addition to that, there is such history as well as such stunning artistry as it pertains to the Abraham Lincoln pattern.

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HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR - RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired numerous pieces of official White House china. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical memorabilia has been his sole focus for more than three decades. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, official White House 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.

ATTENTION: SELL YOUR WHITE HOUSE CHINA  AND/OR PRESIDENTIAL CHINA.

Tags: Abraham Lincoln White House China

A 200 year search ends for James Madison's White House China

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Tue, May 05, 2015 @ 04:30 PM

After a 200-year separation, the two rarest plates from the original official White House China order of James and Dolley Madison have been reunited. Their story underscores how collecting historical memorabilia can be both an art and a science, requiring not just an eye for beauty and a love of history but perseverance and well-honed detective skills.

The two plates that feature in this story are serving dishes – 9.5” diamond-shaped lozenges. After years of research, noted American historian and collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx was able to bring the pair back together and add them to his renowned and often-exhibited White House China Collection. They are extraordinarily rare because they are the only two of their kind, and they are two of just 29 pieces that remain today from the Madisons’ original 231-piece set of White House China.

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RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX EXAMINES THE UNIQUE SERVING DISHES

In 1806, President James Madison and First Lady Dolley Madison ordered those 231 pieces of Presidential China from Paris, France. A few years later, the British attacked the United States in what has since become known as the War of 1812. The British invaders entered the White House and destroyed almost everything within the Executive Mansion, then set it ablaze. The Madisons’ specially-chosen White House china was gone.

After the war, in 1814, President Madison chose the only alternative available at the time, instructing that the china he had officially used as Secretary of State now be used at the White House. The dinnerware from France that had been destroyed then became known as Official White House China, and ever since it has been coveted by institutions, museums and advanced collectors.

Grant Quertermous, Assistant Curator of President Madison’s home in Montpelier, Virginia, worked with White House Curator Bill Allman to compile valuable historic information, revealing that, in fact, 29 pieces of the original Madison porcelain had survived. Three are presently at James Madison’s home. Eight reside at the White House. And Raleigh DeGeer Amyx now owns four of these rare Madison pieces, including the only pair of lozenge-shaped porcelain White House dinnerware.

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2 OF THE 29 REMAINING PIECES OF WHITE HOUSE CHINA FROM JAMES MADISON'S COLLECTION

Not surprisingly, very rare china pieces are also very valuable. These days, it is easier to learn how valuable your historic pieces may be, thanks to the advent of Google. The internet also enabled Raleigh to acquire the two lozenges. When his website was upgraded, many more photographs were added showing pieces in Raleigh’s collection, including two round dinner plates from James and Dolley Madison’s official White House China.

Separate owners of the two lozenges – one in California and one in Texas – found Raleigh’s website, saw the matching dinner plates, and contacted him. Subsequently, one of the owners put their collection up for auction and Raleigh purchased the lozenge; the other owner sold their serving piece directly to him.

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A PORTRAIT OF PRESIDENT JAMES MADISON

Interestingly, one of the two lozenges now carries a calligraphed inscription, added years after the china was in use at the White House. The inscription, however, is historically inaccurate. Raleigh explains that he could have had an expert conservationist correct the calligraphy, but he has chosen not to do so.

An accomplished researcher himself when it comes to White House china and other memorabilia, Raleigh says it doesn’t matter to him that he wasn’t the sleuth to uncover the existence of a few surviving pieces of the Madisons’ porcelain. What is important, he says, is that the results are accurate – and Grant Quertermous was careful to record the owners’ names of each remaining piece.

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RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired numerous pieces of official White House china including pieces from James Madison. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical memorabilia has been his sole focus for more than three decades. His collection is the first or second largest privately-owned collection of White House 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.

ATTENTION: SELL YOUR WHITE HOUSE CHINA  AND/OR PRESIDENTIAL CHINA.

Tags: james madison

George W. Bush: An Old Dog learning New Tricks

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 @ 11:00 AM

What do you do for an encore after you’ve been President of the United States? While some former presidents have chosen to stay in the national or international spotlight working on any number of projects, others have preferred to move into a quieter, less public life. George W. Bush took up oil painting as a way to augment the outdoor sports activities he loves, such as biking and golf.

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PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH WITH AMERICA'S FIRST LADY LAURA WELCH BUSH

President Bush says he was inspired by try painting after he read an essay on art written by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. His intention was to develop a new personal avocation, and he began to take lessons in painting with oils, a particularly difficult medium. He painted a variety of subjects, including a dog, a watermelon, a horse and a golf course scene. He also painted a cat that belonged to his famous mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush.

The former president also tried out a few more “risqué” subjects, painting self-portraits of himself in the bathtub (only his legs) and in the shower (only his back). He said the bathroom paintings were done to “shock” his art teacher. He also painted a portrait of his wife, Laura, who was reportedly less than enthusiastic about the result. His response? “Never paint your wife or mother.”

Our 43rd President’s new painting career received public attention when a hacker tapped into the email account of his sister, Dorothy Bush Koch, hijacking copies of the “bathroom” paintings. They went viral. No surprise.

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A PRISTINE PIECE OF OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA AS SELECTED BY GEORGE W. BUSH AND THE FIRST LADY

Meanwhile, George Bush continues to paint, creating a collection of portraits of 30 world leaders with whom he had dealings – some quite notorious – while serving his two terms as President. The collection was unveiled in a showing at the George W. Bush Library and Museum in Dallas, open to the public from April through June of 2014. The exhibition was entitled “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy,” because Bush always said he believed in the power of diplomacy in addressing the world’s problems.

Using Google Images as inspiration, he painted former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Dalai Lama, Germany’s Angela Merkel and Afghan president Hamid Karzai as part of the collection. Perhaps his most talked-about painting was of Vladimir Putin, the former Russian president who is back in power and recapturing headlines today.

Art critics and political journalists have commented freely on the Putin portrait. Alistair Cooke of The Guardian described it as “unconventional and compelling,” and Adam Taylor of the Washington Post said, “I’d argue that it is a really good painting aesthetically. What’s really fascinating is to watch Bush grapple with the identity of Putin, a man he once claimed to understand well.”

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GEORGE W. BUSH ENJOYS OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES, SUCH AS GOLFING, WITH HIS CLOSE-KNIT FAMILY

More recently, George Bush unveiled an oil painting of himself and his father, former president George H. W. Bush. Bush the younger said, “I was very proud to be standing next to a man I admire greatly.” He wanted to depict his father’s “gentle soul,” but he admitted he had particular difficulty getting the noses just right as he painted.

Noting that it isn’t easy being a former President, Bush has been quoted as saying, “You get this sense of longing that you remain stimulated.” He says his oil painting hobby has help him fill that void. However future historians choose to remark on George Bush’s painting talent, it seems he has fulfilled his dream of becoming a well-known portrait painter.

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RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired numerous pieces of official White House china. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical memorabilia has been his sole focus for more than three decades. His collection is the first or second largest privately-owned collection of White House 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.

ATTENTION: SELL YOUR WHITE HOUSE CHINA  AND/OR PRESIDENTIAL CHINA.

Tags: george w. bush white house china

Bill Clinton: The "Do-Gooder-In-Chief"

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Wed, Apr 08, 2015 @ 02:30 PM

Throughout much of American history, it was traditional for presidents leaving office to go gently into retirement, occasionally consulted by successors but remaining well outside their former spotlight. In recent times, however, that has changed dramatically for some outgoing presidents, including Bill Clinton.

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FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON IN THE OVAL OFFICE

Perhaps it’s that our presidents in recent decades have been younger – not feeling ready to relinquish all the action just because their service in the oval office has come to an end. Bill Clinton was just 46 years old when he took office in 1993, so barely in his mid-50s as he “retired” from the White House. He’s made the most of the intervening years; a former President of the United States using his unparalleled visibility, connections and clout to promote greater good around the world.

Clinton said that he wished to make a “measurable difference,” focusing on national and international problems he came to know intimately as President. Toward that end, he created the William J. Clinton Foundation when he left office in 2001. The Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to “improve global health, education, economies and environments” – a tall order, and one for which President Barack Obama has dubbed him the “Do-Gooder-in-Chief.”

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PRISTINE GOLD SERVICE PLATE FROM CLINTON'S WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION - THIS PIECE IS IN THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION - AS WELL AS OTHER IMPORTANT BILL CLINTON PIECES FROM THE SAME SET

With staff and volunteers around the world, the Foundation works to find actionable solutions to a wide range of issues, including:

  • Improving global health Increase opportunities for women and girls
  • Reducing childhood obesity
  • Eliminating preventable diseases, especially AIDS
  • Enhancing economic opportunities in the US, Africa and Latin America 
  • Helping communities deal with the effects of climate change

One of the Foundation’s most prominent projects is the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), established in 2005. CGI brings together leaders from around the world to contemplate innovative solutions to critical problems. Unlike other organizations, the Clinton Global Initiative takes a unique approach that does not involve direct action to address specific issues. Instead, the focus is on creative thinking, networking, knowledge-building and collaboration.

As part of the Clinton Global Initiative’s efforts, Bill Clinton himself has traveled to Africa five times – once accompanied by Bill Gates – to promote efforts aimed at eradicating HIV/AIDS. He has teamed up with former President George H. W. Bush three times – to raise awareness and funding to assist victims of the South Asia tsunami in 2004, of Hurricane Katrina in 2004 and Hurricane Ike in 2008.

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BILL CLINTON STILL IS ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN FINDING SOLUTIONS TO CRITICAL WORLD PROBLEMS

Clinton joined former President George W. Bush in raising money to rebuild Haiti – especially the country’s schools – following the devastating earthquake that occurred in 2010. The Foundation continues to work to create jobs and economic growth and improve sustainability in Haiti.

Most recently, “CGI University” just concluded a gathering of 1000 students from 300 schools in 75 countries, held at the University of Miami. Together, participants developed 700 Commitments to Action focusing on “new, specific, actionable plans to address pressing challenges facing campuses and communities.” Those action plans include efforts to encourage more girls to choose STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers, bringing affordable, renewable energy to rural communities and improving nutrition in areas the Foundation calls “food deserts.”

Bill Clinton’s action-oriented presidential after-life has drawn attention and support from governments, organizations and individuals around the world. But he has also recruited support from his own family – so much so that the Foundation was formally renamed in 2013 to reflect the extensive involvement of the former First Lady and First Daughter. It is now known as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

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RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX - HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR

World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired select pieces from Bill Clinton's White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical memorabilia has been his sole focus for more than three decades. Mr. Amyx's collection is the first or second largest privately-owned collection of White House 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.

ATTENTION: SELL YOUR WHITE HOUSE CHINA  AND/OR PRESIDENTIAL CHINA.

Tags: bill clinton white house china

Contact Raleigh DeGeer Amyx Online

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