Presidential (Abraham Lincoln) dinner plate, 1861
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Presidential (Abraham Lincoln) dinner plate, 1861

Presidential (Abraham Lincoln) dinner plate, 1861

Limoges, France: Haviland & Co. porcelain Presidential (Abraham Lincoln) dinner plate from the White House State Dinner Service ordered by Mary Lincoln in May 1861 9 inches wide

Replacement Value: $35,000

White porcelain, 9 in. diameter, shaped edges. Hand-painted in New York by Edward Lycett: in the center, a large American eagle surmounting a stars- and-stripes shield and clutching olive branch and arrows, with “E pluribus unum” legend on a pink, set against a rising sun seen through clouds; border of “Solferino” purple with ou ter edge dotted with gold circles, additional gilt “Alhambra” border on white ground (a moorish motif, widely used at the 1851 Crystal Palace in London), the underside blank (indicating that was pa rt of the original order, not one of the replacements ordered during the Grant and Arthur administrations).

A plate from the famous State Dinner Service ordered by Mrs. Lincoln early in her husband’s first term in office. Just two months after Lincoln’s inauguration — not long after Confederate guns fired on Fort Sumter — Mrs. Lincoln spent several days in New York, shopping for fittings for the White House. The state dinner service made for Franklin Pierce and still in use, was clearly inadequate for their purposes. On May 16, noted the New York Daily Tribune, “Mrs. Lincoln … visited the establishments of Lord & Taylor and Messrs. E. V. Haughwout and 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 complete Lincoln state dinner service, delivered in September 1861, consisted of 190 pieces, of which 96 we re dinner plates. The set suffered considerable breakage during its long service. For full de tails see M. B. Klapthor, Official White House China, 2nd edn., The Barra Foundation for Abrams, 1999, pp.82-93.

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