The legacy of each administration's time in the White House lives on in many ways, including the dinner table.
Every four to eight years we seat a new President and a new temporary tenant of the White House. No matter who inhabits this home, it belongs to the citizens of the United States of America and is a living history of our country. And no matter what family lives inside, they’re living with the special legacies of each administration that came before them. Once such legacy is years’ worth of official White House china. Former and current sets of the Presidential china are put to use in the many state dinners, luncheons, brunches, and teas held throughout the year at The White House. Former First Lady Laura Bush summed it up well with this witty quote, “One certainty for all new First Families is that they will be dining on someone else’s dishes.” Admire these pieces, showcased in The Official White House China: From the 18th to the 21st Centuries book, which is in its third edition and has been expanded to include Presidential china patterns from George Washington to Barack Obama.
President Barack Obama
This particular state service was created in 2015 by Pickard China of Antioch, Illinois. The design includes a departure from the commonly used primary colors to a unique color called Kailua Blue which was chosen by First Lady Michelle Obama to symbolize the blue waters of Hawaii, President Barack Obama's home state. The plate also features the traditional Presidential Coat of Arms.
President George W. Bush
Two of the pieces commissioned during their administration are testaments to heritage and history. The plate on the left was designed by Anna Weatherly which depicts the southern magnolia which is found on the White House grounds. The plate on the right was inspired by former pieces of Presidential china and was used for more formal dinners.
President Bill Clinton
To commemorate the 200th anniversary, President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton chose this beautiful state service made by Lenox. The service plate showcases the White House which is the first time this image has been used on state china.
President Ronald Reagan
This Lenox China service, made in 1981, features a wide red border with a gilt rim and crosshatch pattern and a raised gold version of the president's arms. And, of course, the beautiful red color harkens to First Lady Nancy Reagan’s favorite color.
President Harry Truman
The porcelain china made by Lenox in 1951 included celadon green details to match the newly decorated White House State Dining Room and is adorned by a heavy gold rim and the presidential seal. This state service was used by the administrations of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
The porcelain china was made by Lenox in 1934. This handsome service is bordered with gold stars (depicting the states) on a field of navy blue with band of gilt roses and plumes circle the presidential seal. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt chose the rose and plume scroll as a nod to the Roosevelt family crest. This service was deemed the state china from 1935 – 1951.
President Grover Cleveland
These beautiful breakfast dishes adorned with soft pink roses were made by Theodore Haviland of Limoges, France, in 1895. First Lady Frances Cleveland commissioned these during her husband’s second term in the White House.
President Benjamin Harrison
The Limoges service which features a dark blue border and 44 gold stars representing the number of states in the Union at that time was ordered for the White House in 1892. This same service was ordered again by President William McKinley and President Theodore Roosevelt. Up until First Lady Caroline Harrison arrived in the White House, the early collections of White House china was sold at public auction as the staff and First Families didn’t understand the historical importance of these pieces. First Lady Caroline Harrison began the search to locate any items associated with the White House including china, furniture, and accessories which started the preservation of White House artifacts.
President Andrew Jackson
This dessert plate was part of a state service made by Pierre-Louis Dagoty in 1833 of France which features a beautiful blue marbleized border and a nod to the Great Seal of the United States.
President George Washington
George and Martha Washington acquired these pieces during the late 18th century. The dinner plate with the blue "Fitzhugh" border was purchased for Washington by General Henry Lee in 1786.