Doing the dishes takes an immense amount of time and usually arrive at the sunset of an administration. Nancy Reagan truly had few options for entertaining. She soon found out no new china had arrived at the White House since Lady Bird Johnson's brilliant and unique homage to wild flowers were selected. The famously red basket weave with gold trim Ronald Wilson Reagan china service arrived at the White House in 1982. And once again, an eagle flew as part of the presidential seal on the plate.
Let us glide down the orange grand circular staircase for more 1600 ground floor dishing.
Of all the notable presidential family names that lived in the White House, the Lincolns left very little tangible evidence that they were ever there. Mary Todd Lincoln treated shopping like an Olympic sport that demanded she spend every once of gold to get the gold. She actually purchased two formal sets of china. The first set, a royal purple, still sees limited use 150 years later. Mrs. Lincoln after going with a bold design, purchased a second service, the Buff set that arrived after President Lincoln's funeral. The White House has some of the cream and gold trimmed service pieces remaining. It is called the Buff service rather than the Abraham Lincoln service.
Lenox is in Trenton, New Jersey. The wonderful gold inscription on the backside of the presidential plates states, The White House, the year and the words Made In America. Laura Welch Bush chose to echo Nancy Reagan with a green basket weave or crosshatching design and a slightly different version of the golden eagle/presidential seal motif on an ivory background. Inspiration for this service is said to be from the private dinnerware of James and Dolley Madison. The desert plates have a laurel wreath. The smaller, green Truman service complements the Bush service as well as the stunning William Jefferson Clinton service with its gold inlays of rooms in the White House. The George W. Bush formal 14-piece place settings serve 300. The Bush Lenox- made service cost $492,798 when delivered in January 2009.
Michelle Obama can make it possible for another First Gentleman or First Lady can entertain dignitaries on a large scale after her time of being FLOTUS ends. Usually a white tie dinner (the highest form of protocol) is held for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth in a president's second term. My hope is a exclusive dinner for HRM is held over the next couple of years and indeed, it will be a State Event to remember. The Queen reigned over a head of state white tie event at Buckingham Palace for the Obamas last year.
Michelle Obama's hosted 400 people for her first state dinner. There is no service currently in the White House that can handle an event of that magnitude on its own. Michelle chose to mix and match the formal services and she has made other color innovations for larger state events. The political need for the Obamas to appear ecumenical, economical and not make winners and losers of the first state function invitation resulted in tent construction on the South Lawn and floral arrangements that complimented the melding of the differing china services.
A president's second term gravitates towards foreign affairs as they wind down. Entertaining in the White House is about one of the only places that American exceptionalism should be on display on behalf of every citizen. Before that inevitable final goodbye on January 20, 2016, I really want to see a concerted fundraising effort or one major donor proudly present the 44th president of the United States the golden opportunity to leave his china service as a legacy in the ever popular Dish Room.