January 8, 2009

New White House China

Have you seen the new White House china that was just delivered this week? There are two patterns, one more formal than the other.
The Magnolia pattern is the "casual" china and 75 seven-piece place settings were delivered. In addition to the large magnolia, some of the plates are intricately decorated with bugs (real, not electronic) and other insects that are part of the flora and fauna on the White House grounds. This pattern was made by Pickard China in Illinois and was designed by Hungarian-born Anna Weatherly, who is now an American citizen.

The formal pattern is modelled on Dolley Madison's china, with an American eagle in the center, and a green basketweave pattern around the edges.The eagle motif is taken from an inlay on a Massachusetts sideboard in the White House . This pattern was made by Lenox and consists of 320 14-piece place settings.

Check out the pearl-handled knives in both of the pictures. It looks like the dreaded fish-knife on the far right of the setting.

31 comments:

  1. Did all the Reagans' china get broken? Nice choices though but a bit Southern suburban, wouldn't you say?

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  2. Seriously. Is the place they ordered from discount?

    I'm kind of pissed off that this was done at this time. Maybe it was ordered years before?? Now doesn't really seem like the time to be indulging in things like this.

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  3. Presumably it took some time for the china to be designed and to arrive, so one can't fault the timing, re the economy. It must have been in the planning for more than a year.

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  4. Hi Pigtown*Design,
    Thanks for your comment on my blog. I agree, the original Hairspray movie was good. TD knew Divine, but that's another story...

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  5. I think the WH press kit said that it was ordered about two years ago, and with the design, revisions, handpainting, etc. it took that long.

    Also, i think that they also just got the oval office rug recently.

    Seriously, after 8 years, they're just ordering and getting the furnishings?

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  6. I don't think you're right about the oval office rug. Each president has one designed for him. I've seen it pointed out in magazines for a couple of years. As for the china, the $ comes from a private White House foundation and isn't paid for with tax payers $. I actually think it's very pretty.

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  7. Reports indicate the carpet in the Oval Office was installed in 2005.

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  8. Oh, and a 2006 news report about the carpet states that it cost $62,000 and measures 38 feet long by 29 feet wide ... And I stand corrected: It apparently was installed in 2001.

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  9. In the press kit, Mrs. Bush talks about two new rugs... Ah. old family dining room and and the diplomatic reception room rugs are the new ones. not the oval office.

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  10. Yes, it is rather surprising that they get through the china so quickly. I think the services they use for state banquets at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle were purchased in the reign of George III. I'm sure they use several, but one certainly is Meissen and that old. But then all this stuff is very meticulously run like a military operation in the Royal Household. "Waste not, want not", an' all.

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  11. I like both patterns very much and think it's a shame that the china meant for their private residence came so late that they'll barely get a chance to use it. Hope the Obamas like it! In a Washington Post article, Mrs Bush says that this set of formal china will make three that are available now for state dinners when they need 134 place settings - the Reagans' red china, the Clintons' gold and now the Bushs' green.

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  12. Doesn't this seem beyond odd that it arrived two weeks within the inauguration -- despite the time it took to be painted. Am I missing something here?

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  13. Everyone raises a lot of interesting comments and questions.I understand because we are all feeling such a pinch and some spending does just go on and on!

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  14. I think its beyond wonderful =the casual china - I love that so Texas!!! that big magnolia. love it. and I like the fancy china too. as if they just ordered this in this times, ridiculous! I would love a set of that casual china myself - and the knives are wonderful too. great post - thanks Meg!

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  15. I like the formal pattern, though I think the coffee cups would have been be better sans seal.

    The place mats are beyond hideous.

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  16. Great post, I hadn't seen the china. I love the Anna Weatherly pattern; she is such an artist.

    I found a great post on White House decor recently, and it has all of the oval office rug history - definitely worth checking out.
    http://athenaeusbanquet.blogspot.com/2008/11/fit-for-president.html

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  17. wow- snippy comments today. As a child I ate often in the White House Mess and always thought the china was just as stuffy as everyother aspect of the dining room.

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  18. I think they are both lovely, but the formal set is so luxurious. And imagine my surprise to see the pearl handled silver that I inherited from my grandmother. I treasure it.

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  19. Great post! With regard to the timeliness of the china's commission and delivery, recent history (Reagans and Clintons) seems to suggest that only two-term Presidents and First Ladies have ordered china, and it always arrives shortly before their departure from the Whitehouse.

    Laura Bush noted in several intervies that the reason for the order of the large formal service was to provide enough pieces to accomodate the largest State banquets, something that no current sets in the Whitehouse collection could accomodate; namely the Reagan service which up to now was the largest and most complete. Additionally she addressed the current economic problems by noting that the china was ordered two years ago during much more prosperous times for the country with private funds donated for such a purpose.

    Given the recent problems facing potters like Lenox, Wedgwood, and Spode maybe more instutions should be stocking up.

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  20. Things that Inspire, thank you for the plug, I love Whitehouse history, I think it goes back to a tour when I was a little kid.

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  21. I think the china is very pretty, VERY southern but NOT appropriate for the white house. Not to get political -but it's very fitting of the Bush's. With so much talk about the Obamas and interior designers it makes me wonder -do the Obamas even care about design? The bush's do not and it's very obvious. So really......they might not care and use any old china, may not even use a designer for private quarters, etc. Time will tell...I would love to see one of the shelter magazines address this with Michelle O!

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  22. As a minority of one, might I suggest that both patterns would look lovely at a Junior League luncheon. At the White House, NO.

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  23. I have to agree with Toad. Who picked out this stuff? (My guess is Barbara Bush.) The Obamas need to get Michael Smith in there asap - as the new 'design czar'.

    -Lana

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  24. LOL as I was reading through everyone's comments on the two sets, I was becoming convinced my taste in Tableware was out of touch, until I reached Toad & Topsy Turvy's comments. I'm with them...."hayyy-ted it". Great post Pigtown Design.

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  25. I think it is very fresh and pretty, with a nice historical reference. It will look lovely in the State Dining Room. As for the amount of time it took...with 320 place settings (of 14 pieces each), that is a total of 4480 pieces that need to be handpainted...I am impressed that they were able to complete it in just two years! It was made by Lenox, and paid for by the White House Historical Association, which is a non-profit, non-taxpayer-funded organization. So private money, supporting an American company. I don't have a problem with that!

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  26. I do love the formal pattern, although the placemats look straight out of Linens and Things. Clearance.

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  27. Hmmm, I like the formal pattern, despite not being crazy about eagles(how un-American, right?). As for the casual pattern, not so much. Personally, when I visited the WH, I didn't find it extraordinarily high on style and the carpets I saw were more than a little worn, so I wouldn't say they are over-splurging on decorating $. However, it IS more of an institution/museum than a real home, so I guess you have to take that into account, along with having to accomodate such large numbers of people/foot traffic. I certainly wouldn't want to live there, not that I am in any danger. LOL.

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  28. Remember someone has to wash all those new dishes by hand...

    Though completely speculating, I can't imagine these patterns being favored by the Obamas. Little on the glitzy side...

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  29. Regarding the magnolia design - one wonders what the Obamas might think of dinnerware emblazoned with the floral symbol of the Old South. Although, I had only seen the dinner plate of the magnolia design in press reports - not the far more charming one with the bugs and butterflies. These might amuse Sasha and Malia.

    I think the formal setting is both ostentatious and dull.

    As for the Oval Office rug - George Bush seems obsessed with it, he apparently tells the story about it's design to every visitor.

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  30. I would not want to eat off of plates with bugs on them. That is just not appropriate. And what's with copying one of the antique china patterns? Pick out a new one for Pete's sake.

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