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Title: White House China of the Lincoln Administration in the Museum of History and Technology
Author: Klapthor, Margaret Brown, 1922-1994
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  UNITED STATES NATIONAL MUSEUM BULLETIN 250
  CONTRIBUTIONS FROM
  THE MUSEUM OF HISTORY AND TECHNOLOGY
  PAPER 62, PAGES 109-120


  WHITE HOUSE CHINA OF THE LINCOLN ADMINISTRATION
  IN THE MUSEUM OF HISTORY AND TECHNOLOGY
  _Margaret Brown Klapthor_


  SMITHSONIAN PRESS
  WASHINGTON, D.C.
  1967



[Illustration: WHITE HOUSE COLLECTION

Figure 1: A TABLE SETTING showing the Lincoln china being used for a
luncheon during the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson.]



_Margaret Brown Klapthor_

WHITE HOUSE CHINA OF THE LINCOLN ADMINISTRATION

_In the Museum of History and Technology_

    _This article on the china of the administration of President Abraham
    Lincoln is intended to be the first of a series of articles on
    Presidential china based on the collection in the Smithsonian
    Institution. From contemporary records in National Archives, newspaper
    articles and family records it is our hope to assemble material which
    will ultimately present the story of White House and Presidential
    china of every administration. Myths and facts surrounding this
    interesting topic will be examined and presented to assist the many
    collectors of this porcelain as well as others who admire and
    appreciate its historical interest._

    _In this first article, the author describes the efforts of Mrs.
    Abraham Lincoln to acquire porcelain suitable for official
    entertaining in the White House._

    THE AUTHOR: _Margaret Brown Klapthor is associate curator of political
    history in the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of History and
    Technology._


When Mrs. Lincoln arrived at the White House in 1861 she found the pantry
sadly deficient in elegant tableware to set a State dinner. The last
official State service had been purchased by the White House during the
administration of President Franklin Pierce (it is the china known
popularly as the "red edge" set), and not enough of that was left to serve
a large dinner party.

Theodore R. Davis, who designed the State china purchased during the
administration of President Rutherford B. Hayes, wrote an article,
published in the May 1899 issue of the _Ladies' Home Journal_, on the
"Presidential Porcelain of a Century." He records that in 1860 he saw the
State Dining Room of the White House set up for the formal dinner given
for the visiting Prince of Wales, and that "the dishes were more or less
odd, but generally comprised what was known as the 'red edge set'."

Chinaware was not the only thing needed in the Executive Mansion in the
opinion of Mary Todd Lincoln. Fortunately for her, Congress was accustomed
to appropriating $20,000 to refurnish the President's House to the taste
of each new First Lady. This money became available to her when the
special session was convened in April 1861, and Mrs. Lincoln set out the
next month on a shopping trip to New York and Philadelphia. She was
accompanied by a favorite cousin, Mrs. Elizabeth Todd Grimsley, who had
come to Washington for the inauguration in March and stayed on at the
White House with the Lincolns for six months.

The ladies' arrival in New York City on May 12, was duly noted in the city
newspaper. On May 16, 1861, _The New York Daily Tribune_ records under the
heading _Personal_:

    Mrs. Lincoln employed the greater portion of Wednesday forenoon in
    making purchases. Among other places she visited the establishments of
    Lord & Taylor, and Messrs. E. V. Haughwout and Co. At the latter
    establishment she ordered a splendid dinner service for the White
    House in "Solferino" and gold with the arms of the United States
    emblazoned on each piece. The purchases also include some handsome
    vases and mantle ornaments for the blue and green rooms.

The firm of E. V. Haughwout and Co. whose bill head identifies it as
"Importers and Decorators of French China" was accustomed to Executive
Mansion patronage. Under the name of Haughwout and Dailey they had sold a
dinner service to President Pierce in 1853.[1] During Mrs. Lincoln's May
visit, Haughwout's must have shown her a handsome specimen plate they had
exhibited at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in New York in 1853 which had
been made for President Pierce's approval. A picture of the plate in the
Haughwout and Dailey display is shown in the catalog of the Exhibition
where it is identified as "a specimen plate of a dinner service
manufactured for the President of the United States with the American
eagle and blue band in Alhambra style."[2] President Pierce evidently did
not like the design as the service he subsequently purchased from
Haughwout and Dailey had a plain red band and was not the one manufactured
for his approval and exhibited in New York.


[Illustration: Figure 2.--PLATE ILLUSTRATED in the catalog of the Crystal
Palace Exhibition, 1853. (Smithsonian photo 60016.)]


Mary Todd Lincoln was delighted with the plate displayed at the Crystal
Palace Exhibition and ordered a complete dinner service of that design.
Her only change was to have a wide "Solferino" border painted on the
service instead of the blue border specified for the 1853 plate. This
bright purplish-red color had become extremely fashionable since its
discovery in 1859, and it provided another variation of Mrs. Lincoln's
favorite color, which she indulged in personal attire as well as in room
decor.

Mrs. Lincoln probably first saw and gave her approval to the elegant new
china when she returned to New York for more shopping in August. The china
was delivered on September 2, 1861, with a bill itemized as follows:[3]

    One fine Porcelain Dining Service of One Hundred, and ninety pieces
    ... 190 ... decorated Royal purple, and double gilt, with the Arms of
    the United States, on each piece, for the Presidential Mansion ...
    namely ...


[Illustration: Figure 3.--PLATE, COMPOTE, AND SMALL PLATTER from the
purple-bordered State china used during the administration of President
Abraham Lincoln, (USNM ace. 221233; Smithsonian photo 48115-A.)]


        Two Bowls for Salad
        Four Shells do Pickles
        Four Meat Platters 9 inch
        Four  do    do     10 do
        Four  do    do     13 do
        Two   do    do     15 do
        Two   do    do     18 do
        Two   do    do     20 do
        Four Fish   do     various sizes, and forms
        Two Butter Dishes, with drainers, and covers.
        Six uncovered vegetable dishes or bakers.
        Ninety-six Dinner Plates 9 inch
        Forty-eight Soup   do    9  do
        Four Large Water Pitchers.
        Two Bowls for Ice.

                    Eleven Hundred, and ninety-five dollars.

    One fine Porcelain Dessert Service, consisting of Two hundred and
    eight pieces ... 208 ... richly decorated to match Dining Set ...
    namely.

        Two Stands for Custard Cups
        Thirty-six        do    do
        Eight High Comportiers for fruit.
        Two    do   do large    do  do
        Four shell  do
        Two Bowls for Strawberries
        Two Dessert Sugars
        Six Round High Baskets for fruit.
        Two Oval   do    do    do   do
        Sixty Dessert Plates 8 inch
        Thirty-six after Dinner Coffees.

                    Eight Hundred, and thirty-seven dollars.


    One fine Breakfast, and Tea Service, containing Two Hundred, and sixty
    pieces, richly decorated to match Dinner Service ... namely.

        Forty-eight Tea Plates 6-1/2 inch
        Thirty-six Preserve do 4-1/2 do
        Thirty-six Coffees for Breakfast
        Twenty-four Egg Cups
        Thirty-six Teas
        Eight Plates for Cake

                    Seven Hundred, and fifty nine dollars.

    Four Small Sevres Centre Pieces for Bon Bons, decorated to match
    Dinner Service @ Twenty-five = One Hundred Two Large Centre Pieces,
    Sevres, supported by "White Pelicans and decorated to match dinner
    service

                               @ One Hundred = Two Hundred
        Two Punch Bowls, decorated to match dinner service
                                     @ Fifty = One Hundred
                             Packages         Four Dollars

        Total Amount
        Three Thousand, one Hundred and Ninety-five dollars.

The picture of the design presented for President Pierce's inspection in
1853 which appears in the catalog of the New York Crystal Palace
Exhibition[4] is proof of the readiness with which symbolism is read into
a design which came into existence long before the symbol is
appropriate. Writing in 1895 Edwin Atlee Barber says of the Lincoln China
that the design for the decoration, selected after much consultation among
officials at Washington, was added in New York by the importer. It
consisted of a spirited rendering of the arms of the United States--the
American eagle mounted on the national shield and beneath it the motto _E
Pluribus Unum_. This design was engraved and then transferred to the china
as an outline to be filled in with color. The border of the plate, a gold
guilloche, or cable, of two strands entwined and, thus, mutually
strengthening each other, was intended to signify the union of the North
and South.[5] The same idea was meant to be conveyed in the central
design: "Though clouds surround our Country, the sunlight is breaking
through." The explanation of the symbolism of the design, while
appropriate for the Lincoln Administration, could hardly have been true
for the china which was originally designed for Presidential use in 1853.


[Illustration: Figure 4.--LETTERHEAD OF E. V. HAUGHWOUT & CO., from whom
the purple set was ordered. (Smithsonian photo 60001-A.)]


Tradition identifies the blanks on which the design of the Lincoln china
was painted as being imported from the Haviland factory in Limoges,
France. The original china bears no maker's mark, however, as this was
more than ten years before the Haviland factory started to mark their
ware.[6] The earliest positive link of the Lincoln china to Haviland and
Company seems to be an affidavit which Theodore R. Davis attached to a
Lincoln plate in 1881 saying "This plate One of the Lincoln Set made by
Haviland & Co. was used by President Garfield when upon his death bed. The
plate was broken in bringing it from the President's room and was given by
Wm. Crump to Theo. R. Davis Sept. 1881." The plate is now in the
collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. It is possible
that Theodore Davis, a personal friend of Theodore Haviland, had derived
directly from Mr. Haviland this manufacturer identification of the china
which Haughwout decorated.


[Illustration: Figure 5.--LINCOLN PLATE which bears affidavit of Theodore
R. Davis. (_Courtesy of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin._)]


The official dinner service so delighted Mrs. Lincoln that she ordered a
similar set for herself. On the personal service the initials "M. L." were
substituted for the arms of the United States as decoration. Mrs. Grimsley
says "... this latter, I know, was not paid for by the district
commissioner, as was most unkindly charged when it was stored away."[7] It
has been suggested that the personal china was paid for by a withdrawal
of $1106.73 from the President's account with the bank of Riggs and Co.


[Illustration: Figure 6.--CUSTARD CUP From the Purple-Bordered State China
used during the administration of President Abraham Lincoln. (USNM acc.
206542; Smithsonian photo 44120-G.)]


The personal china was an indiscreet purchase, at best, and Mrs. Lincoln
was soon accused of buying the china out of public funds. In the midst of
the campaign in which Lincoln ran for re-election in 1864 an opposition
newspaper, _The New York World_, published a bitter attack on the
President and his wife charging that the bill submitted by Haughwout for
the State service had been padded to include the cost of the personal
china.[8] According to the paper's editorial, the deceit was discovered
when the amount of the bill was questioned by a clerk in the Treasury
Department and "Honest Abe," when cornered, made payment out of his own
pocket. This story seems to be refuted by the evidence on the Haughwout
bill, which was signed by the Comptroller for payment on September 16,
1861, within two weeks after the china was received, and only three after
President Lincoln had approved the bill.

The extent to which this controversy spoiled Mrs. Lincoln's pleasure in
the handsome purple service perhaps can be measured by the fact that after
President Lincoln was re-elected, she purchased another large china
service for the White House. A bill, recently discovered at the National
Archives, documents the new set as being ordered by Mrs. Lincoln from J.
K. Kerr of 529 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, whose establishment, known
as China Hall, specialized in French and English china and glassware.
Dated January 30, 1865, the bill was for:[9]

    1 Extra Large French China, Dining, Dessert and Coffee Service,
    decorated on a White ground, delicate Buff Border with burnished Gold
    lines consisting of the following pieces.

        12 Dozen Dining plates                 }
         6 Dozen Soup plates                   }
         6 Dozen Dessert plates                }
         6 Dozen Ice Cream, or peaches & cream }
            plates deep                        }
         1 Large dish for head of table        }
         1 Foot dish                           }
         2 Second course head & foot dishes    }
         2 more dishes                         }
         2 more dishes                         }
         2 more dishes                         }
         4 vegetable dishes with covers        }
         4 more vegetable dishes with covers   }
         4 Sauce tureens                       }      $1700
         4 Sauce Boats                         }
         4 Stands for Sauce Boats              }
         4 Pickle Shells                       }
         2 Salad Bowls                         }
         2 Custard Stands                      }
        48 Custard Cups with covers            }
         2 Large rich oval fruit Baskets       }
         4 Smaller round    do                 }
         4 Fruit Comports Shell form for fruit }
         4   do    do      high round          }
         2 Dessert Sugar bowls with covers     }
        48 After Dinner Coffee Cups & Saucers  }
         1 Large Dish for Fish                 }

Records show that the china was brought to Washington by Harnden Express,
as there is a voucher "For freight on 5 casks from Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C., mkd Mrs. A. Lincoln $28.50. China from
J. Kerr Phila. Pa. for dinner." It is signed "J. K. Kerr" "Mrs. Lincoln"
and is dated February 13, 1865.[10]

Two weeks later, on February 28, Kerr sent a bill for some additions to
the service as follows:[11]

  2 Dozen Coffee Cups & Saucers
            Delicate Buff Border & Gilt 20.00 40.00
  4 Water pitchers         do       do  10.00 40.00
  4       do      smaller  do       do   8.00 32.00
  4       do         do    do       do   6.00 24.00
  4       do         do    do       do   5.00 20.00
  6 bowls                  do       do   2.50 15.00
                        Package                2.50
                                        ----- -----
                                             173.50

Two months later President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The china so
recently ordered could hardly have been used by Mrs. Lincoln, and
evidently payment had not been made, for it is recorded that at one of the
first conferences which B. B. French, Commissioner of Public Buildings and
Grounds, had with President Johnson in April 1865, he sought the
President's approval of payment for a purchase of china by Mrs.
Lincoln.[12]


[Illustration: Figure 7:--COFFEE CUP From the Purple-Bordered State China
used by President Abraham Lincoln at dinner at the White House on the
night of his assassination. (USNM acc. 219098; Smithsonian photo
45088-D.)]


[Illustration: Figure 8.--LETTERHEAD OF J. K. KERR, from whom the buff set
was ordered. (Smithsonian photo 60001-B.)]


[Illustration: Figure 9.--GRAVY BOAT AND SOUP BOWL from the buff-bordered
French porcelain ordered by Mrs. Lincoln for the White House in 1865.
(USNM acc. 228204; Smithsonian photo 48115-Y.)]


[Illustration: Figure 10.--PIECES FROM THE BUFF-BORDERED SERVICE displayed
in the China Room in the White House. (_Photo by Abbie Rowe, courtesy
National Park Service._)]


[Illustration: Figure 11.--SOUP BOWL FROM THE ROYAL WORCESTER SERVICE used
at the summer White House at the Soldiers' Home during the administration
of President Abraham Lincoln. (USNM acc. 228204; Smithsonian photo
48115-F.)]


Despite Commissioner French's concern, the account was not completely
settled until a year after the china had been delivered. The first bill is
receipted as paid on August 29, 1865, at which time it was endorsed
"Received from B B French C. P. Bgs the above amnt of Two thousand three
hundred & thirty two dollars in full of this account." (The difference
between this amount and that given above is accounted for by the fact that
the original order included 4 dozen goblets and 28 dozen wineglasses of
various sizes, costing a total of $632.50.) The second bill was paid on
February 10, 1866.

The inventory made when Mrs. Lincoln turned over the White House to
President Johnson lists under china and glassware "One full set China,"
which was certainly this buff and gold service, and "3 small remnants of
china sets nearly all broken up," which must have included the remaining
pieces of the royal-purple service.[13]

Evidently, the Johnsons decided to use the purple china, because we find
that in less than a year they ordered replacement pieces for it. A bill
from E. V. Haughwout, dated January 17, 1866[14] lists--

    To the following articles of rich China Ware with Arms & Crests of the
    U.S. to replace the pieces broken & lost of the Solferino sett viz

         1 salad dish, 4 pickles, 36 custard cups, }
        24 egg cups, 18 dishes--4/10-, 6/11-,      }
          6/13-, 1/15-, 1/18-inch                  }
         6 comports 3/high, 2/low, & 1/shell       }
         2 dessert sugars, 2 round baskets         }
         2 butter dishes, 31 dinner plates         }
        57 dessert plates, 48 tea plates           }
        25 soup     "    , 26 preserve "           }
        36 breakfast coffees, 36 black coffees     }
        36 teas, 1 Cake plate, 4 pitchers          }
         1 Ice bowl                                }      2061.25

Even with this second order, which almost equalled the original in size
and cost, the purple set did not last; early in the administration of
President Grant not enough of it was left to set the table in the State
Dining Room satisfactorily. Those who handled the Lincoln set grew weary,
it is said, of the constant breakage and became convinced that not
careless handling but "bad luck in the china itself" was destroying both
the dishes and the patience of those who were responsible for them.[15]

The story of the china associated with the Lincoln administration must
also include a service used by the Lincolns at the summer White House
which they maintained on the grounds of the Soldiers' Home in Washington,
D.C. Recently, the Quartermaster Corps of the Army turned over to the
White House for the china collection some pieces of Royal Worcester china
used in the house at the time of President Lincoln's occupancy. It has a
wide border of tiny gray and yellow flowers in a diaper design, with a
multicolored floral wreath in the center of the plate. This use of English
china and the informal design of the set is noteworthy, as almost every
set of official china up to this time had been French, and French china
continued to be used at the White House until almost the end of the 19th
century.

It is appropriate in this discussion of the Lincoln china to mention the
number of commemorative reproductions which were made for sale to the
general public as souvenirs in the last quarter of the 19th century. The
earliest of these reproduction pieces seem to be some which are marked on
the back "Fabriqué par Haviland & Co./Pour/J. W. Boteler &
Bro./Washington." The firm of J. W. Boteler and Brother is first listed in
the Washington City Directory in 1867 and it was in existence until 1881
when the name of the firm was changed to J. W. Boteler & Son. The dates of
Boteler & Brother encompasses the period of the celebration of the
Centennial of the United States in 1876. This celebration created intense
interest in the Presidency and objects which symbolized the office,
providing a ready market for copies of the Lincoln china. Indeed several
different pieces of White House china have been brought to our attention
with family legends that they were purchased at the "World's Fair." In
each case it has been clear that the "Fair" meant the Centennial
Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. Two reproduction plates have been
brought to the Smithsonian Institution for examination. On both of these
the words "Administration/Abraham Lincoln" were stamped on the back in
red. It is well for collectors of White House china to remember that the
original pieces of the Lincoln service did not bear any mark on the
reverse.


[Illustration: Figure 12.--DRAWING OF THE MARK found, in red, on the two
plates submitted to the Museum for identification.]


[Illustration: Figure 13.--OBVERSE OF LINCOLN PLATE bearing the mark of J.
W. Boteler and Bro. (Smithsonian photo 44120.)]


The excellent quality of the pieces bearing the Boteler mark may explain a
persistent legend that Edward Lycett was associated with the Lincoln
service.[16] Mr. Lycett came to this country from England in 1861 and
thereafter was identified with the development and expansion of the art of
china painting in America until the turn of the century. Many sources
credit Mr. Lycett with painting the second order of the Lincoln service on
commission of John Vogt & Co. of New York City. As the records establish
the fact that the second order for the china was made to E. V. Haughwout &
Co., just as was the first, we can only speculate that perhaps Mr. Lycett
painted the commemorative china which bears the mark of J. W. Boteler &
Brother and of Haviland & Co. which is so beautifully hand painted to
match the official White House china.


[Illustration: Figure 14.--MARK OF J. W. BOTELER & BRO. used on reverse of
Lincoln plate. (Smithsonian photo 44120-L.)]


In the collections of the Smithsonian's Museum of History and Technology
are the following pieces of the royal-purple set of Lincoln china:

    Plate and 2-handled custard cup. Gift of Col. Theodore Barnes, (USNM
    accession 206542, cat. nos. 58566 and 58567).

    Dinner coffee cup and saucer, gift of Mr. Lincoln Isham (USNM
    accession 219098, cat. no. 219098.9). This cup and saucer are the ones
    which were used by President Lincoln at dinner on the night of April
    14, 1865, just before he attended the performance at Ford's Theater at
    which he was assassinated.

The following pieces are in the Smithsonian Institution on loan from the
White House (accessions 221233 and 228204).

  From the purple set:
    small oval platter
    meat platter
    3 compotes
    oval fruit basket
    coffee cup and saucer
    water pitcher
    fish platter
    dinner plate
    shallow bowl
    soup bowl.

  From the set with the buff band:
    soup bowl
    gravy boat.


U.S. Government Printing Office; 1967

For sale by Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D.C. 20402 Price 35 cents



FOOTNOTES:

[1] National Archives, Record group 217, Government Accounting Office,
miscellaneous Treasury accounts, receipted account 113810, voucher 4.

[2] _Official catalog of the New York exhibition of the industry of all
nations_, 1853. New York, 1853.

[3] National Archives, record group 217, General Accounting Office,
miscellaneous Treasury accounts, receipted account 141451.

[4] Loc. cit. (footnote 2).

[5] EDWIN ATLEE BARBER, "The Pioneer of China Painting in America," _The
Ceramic Monthly_ (September 1895), vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 15-20.

[6] Letter from Charles Haviland at Limoges, France, to Theodore Haviland
in the United States dated March 4, 1869, in the archives of Haviland &
Co., Inc.: "It would certainly be a good thing to stamp all our china with
our name if: 1st our china was better than any one else or at least as
good and 2nd if we made enough for our trade. Without that it would turn
against us and learn people that by ordering through Vogt or Nittal they
could get Gibus or Julieus china which is better than ours. And if ours
was the best but we did not make enough to fill orders there would be a
complaint when we gave other manufacturer's china. So our first aim must
be to manufacture as well or better than any body else and to make all we
sell----_Then & then only_ it will be a capital thing to stamp all our
make with our name." Their goal was finally achieved in 1876.

[7] ELIZABETH TODD GRIMSLEY, "Six Months in the White House," _Journal,
Illinois State Historical Society_, vol. 19, nos. 3-4, pp. 42-73.

[8] _The New York World_, September 26, 1864.

[9] National Archives, record group 217, General Accounting Office,
miscellaneous Treasury accounts, receipted account 157178, voucher 9.

[10] Ibid., voucher 26.

[11] Ibid., voucher 25.

[12] GEORGE FORT MILTON, _The Age of Hate: Andrew Johnson and the
Radicals_ (New York: Coward-McCann, Inc., 1930), p. 229.

[13] National Archives, records of Commissioner of Public Buildings and
Grounds, inventory of the Lincoln Administration, 1865.

[14] Op. cit. (footnote 9), voucher 18.

[15] THEODORE R. DAVIS, "Presidential Porcelain of a Century," _The
Ladies' Home Journal_ (May 1889), p. 4.

[16] EDWIN ATLEE BARBER, loc. cit. (footnote 5).





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