GEORGE H. W. BUSH (1924-2018)
OUR 41ST PRESIDENT (1989-1993)
Raleigh DeGeer Amyx is not only one of the nation’s foremost collectors of Official White House China, his career as a collector started with Presidential relics. Over the years he has become intimately familiar with the histories behind his collected pieces and the Presidents who used them. Every item has a story to tell, and even in instances where he has sold or traded a piece, the story has remained with him, part of his lifetime collection.
And so, the recent passing of President George H. W. Bush had a very personal meaning for Mr. Amyx. “It hit me really hard,” he acknowledges. “We all lost a tremendous friend.”
PRESIDENT BUSH WITH HIS BELOVED FIRST LADY, BARBARA BUSH - WHO PASSED AWAY EARLIER IN 2018.
Mr. Amyx knew the first President Bush, though not well, dating back to when Bush served in Congress and then as Vice President. “He was a man in perpetual motion,” recalls Mr. Amyx, “from sunup to sunset. Like a clock that needed constant winding.” Part of that movement included regularly playing tennis and racquetball in the private gymnasium reserved for members of Congress.
Even after he moved into the Executive Mansion, President Bush would be whisked via limo from the White House to the underground parking and Rayburn House Building gym entrance, so he could meet with Congressmen (real friends) in private and then play racquetball.
The gymnasium staff consisted of just a few men, responsible for maintaining the facility but also talented players who could ably step onto the court with a Congressman, if a partner was needed. The gymnasium staff developed cordial relationships with the members they served. One of these staffers was also a friend of Mr. Amyx.
PRESIDENT BUSH WAS AN AVID LOVER OF SPORTS, BUT THE PRESIDENT HAD AN AFFINITY FOR TENNIS.
President Bush was not someone who wanted to hear, “Nice shot!” when that wasn’t the case. He wanted intelligent conversation and enjoyable play. Mr. Amyx’s friend was just that kind of man, so he was often invited to play with Mr. Bush, whether as partner or across the net. On occasion, he would ask Mr. Bush to autograph something that would become part of the Raleigh DeGeer Amyx collection.
Mr. Amyx was also well-acquainted with the woman who served as President Bush’s personal secretary for many years. They met in an entirely non-political way, when she and her husband visited the Amyx home – it had been built by a builder they were also considering. Of course, she also knew of Mr. Amyx’s exceptional collection, especially his White House China, and she wanted to see it for herself. Although she knew the President very well, Mr. Amyx was careful not to take advantage of their friendship to request Presidential favors.
TENNIS RACKET, CARRYING CASE, AND AUTOGRAPHED TENNIS BALL ALL GENEROUSLY GIFTED BY PRESIDENT BUSH TO A FRIEND OF MR. AMYX - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
There came a time, however, when serendipity intervened. Naturally, the President’s personal secretary knew the staff at the Congressional gym. One day, she called Mr. Amyx’s friend and asked if he could fill in at the last minute to join the President’s tennis foursome – at the White House. Well, who would say no to that? But the man’s tennis equipment was at his home, and there was no time to go get it. He rummaged around in the storage area at the gym and came up with an old wooden racket from around 1950.
When the President caught sight of that old wooden racket, he asked his valet to please bring out one of his own. It was a fine piece of equipment, in its own beautiful case. After the game, President Bush gave his racket to Mr. Amyx's friend to replace the old wooden racket. And then the foursome, which included two cabinet officers, continued playing tennis. And this fine gentleman passed it along to Mr. Amyx for his “museum.”
LARGE SIZE GIFT PRINT OF THE 1989 OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHRISTMAS CARD - PERSONALLY SIGNED BY PRESIDENT GEORGE H. W. BUSH AND FIRST LADY BARBARA BUSH - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION
Mr. Amyx had a third link to George H. W. Bush, a career military man who served for 18 years on the staff of the National Security Council, working out of the White House. Over time, he became very familiar with daily White House activities and had opportunities to greet the President as he went about his business. Working with the President’s personal secretary, he would periodically ask Mr. Bush to autograph an item. Sometimes President Bush would add “stay the course” after his signature. He even signed one item from his inauguration day, adding “January 20, 1989.”
Memorabilia and Official White House China aside, Mr. Amyx says the most fun part of developing relationships with people near to the President has been the anecdotes they volunteer. As a lifelong Presidential historian as well as collector, it’s hard to imagine a more attentive audience than Raleigh DeGeer Amyx.
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.