The Most Stunning Presidential China Patterns at the White House Table

Gold China with White House Image
Photo: White House Historical Association

These presidential plates serve, no pun intended, as a living history of the White House for over 200 years. We might seat a new president of the United States every four to eight years, but the legacies live on. The White House belongs to the American people, after all—and so does that mean the china does too? We call dibs. Each administration uses both historic and newly commissioned sets of the state service china in countless state dinners, First Lady luncheons, and holiday affairs. Former First Lady Laura Bush said, "One certainty for all new First Families is that they will be dining on someone else's dishes." Admire these pieces, some in Official White House China: From the 18th to the 21st Centuries, that have been introduced to the White House as far back as 1786 (George Washington, we're looking at you!). Be inspired by these most stunning presidential china patterns throughout history.

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George Washington

White Plate with Blue Border Presidential China
White House Historical Association

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.

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Andrew Jackson

Blue Marble Presidential China
White House Historical Association

This dessert plate was part of a state service made by Pierre-Louis Dagoty of France in 1833. It features blue marbling on the border and a gracious nod to the Great Seal of the United States.

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James K. Polk

James K. Polk
White House Historical Association

Though the dinner plates are of simpler design—gold-rimmed and white—the Polk administration's dessert plates really made the collection sing with a pastel green rim and botanical design. Almost every piece features a unique shield behind the national motto on a floating banner.

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Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
White House Historical Association

They are America's royalty, after all. The Lincoln administration selected a wonderfully regal pattern in a shade of purple that Mary Todd Lincoln chose herself. The banner reads in Latin, "Out of many, one," and the eagle is meant to represent President Lincoln.

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Benjamin Harrison

White House Historical Association
White House Historical Association

A more dramatic service, these plates feature an inky blue border and 44 gold stars, which represented the number of states in the Union at the time it was ordered for the White House in 1892. This same service oversaw the presidencies of William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, as well.

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Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant
White House Historical Association

You might notice the disparity in style between the scalloped botanical plates and what are affectionately referred to as the "fish plates." There's a reason for that: President Grant and his wife, Julia Boggs Grant, went on a grand tour of Europe where they selected the unique pattern to pair with the more traditional china pattern back home in the United States. Only 24 fish plates were ever in service.

07 of 16

Grover Cleveland

Presidential China With Pink Roses
White House Historical Association

These are the breakfast dishes commissioned by First Lady Frances Cleveland during her husband's second term in the White House. Made in 1895 by Theodore Haviland of Limoges, France, the white plates are adorned with soft pink roses to fit the more casual purpose.

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Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson
White House Historical Association

This stately blue-and-gold set was the first to be manufactured in the United States (by Lenox of Trenton, New Jersey!) and was decidely more ornate than some presidential china patterns before, using 3-D gold on the rims and insignia.

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Franklin D. Roosevelt

Navy and Gold Stars Presidential China
White House Historical Association

Made by Lenox in 1934, this handsome service is bordered with "America blue" and gold stars (one for each state). The presidential seal is encircled by gilt roses and plumes, selected by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt as a nod to the Roosevelt family crest.

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Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower
White House Historical Association

President Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie, chose this ostentatious pattern in 1955. Each service plate is rimmed with pure gold (like that used to make gold coins) in a special embossed diamond design. Instead of commissioning an entirely new set, first lady Mamie Eisenhower ordered 120 plates to coordinate with the Truman set.

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Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson
White House Historical Association

Lady Bird Johnson wanted her state china pattern to be something outside of the norm. Nearly five decades had seen only simple dinner plates rimmed in one color (usually gold) and designed with an American eagle in the middle. She instead chose to wreath the eagle in wildflowers to make it appear both patriotic and botanical. The china pattern reflected her passion for nature preservation, which she championed in her First Lady role.

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Harry S. Truman

Green and Gold Presidential China
White House Historical Association

Made by Lenox in 1951, this porcelain china features rich celadon green detailing to match the newly decorated White House State Dining Room at the time. The heavy gold rim and presidential seal favored many past presidential services. This particular state service was also used by the administration of John F. Kennedy.

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Ronald Reagan

Red Presidental China
White House Historical Association

With a bright scarlet red border, gilded rim, and delicate crosshatch pattern, this state service is one of the most striking ever designed. It was also the most expensive. First Lady Nancy Reagan commissioned 4,370 pieces from Lenox after hosting a large dinner for which she was ill-equipped. The cost of $209,508 was footed by an anonymous donor, but the famous red color was chosen exclusively to match Nancy Reagan's favorite color.

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Bill Clinton

Gold China with White House Image
White House Historical Association

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the White House, President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton chose this yellow china pattern as a breath of fresh air. Since then, yellow has become even more popular in the White House, due to its calm and agreeable disposition. The service plate showcases the White House, which is the first time that particular image had been used on state china.

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George W. Bush

Gold China with Magnolia Flower
White House Historical Association

These two pieces commissioned during President Bush's administration were made to be testaments to both heritage and history. The plate on the left, designed by Anna Weatherly, depicts a Southern magnolia, which is now found on the White House grounds. The service plate on the right was inspired in tribute to former pieces of presidential china and was suited for more formal hosting.

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Barack Obama

White Blue and Gold Presidential China
White House Historical Association

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," chosen by First Lady Michelle Obama to symbolize the blue waters of President Barack Obama's home state of Hawaii. The plate is tied together by the traditional Presidential Coat of Arms.

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