Sunday, December 13, 2009

President Monroe's "Other" China

This townhouse at 2017 I Street, NW in Washington, DC had some truly impressive occupants. Secretary of State James Monroe and his wife were residents here before the British invasion in 1814. They furnished the house with furniture and other items acquired when Monroe served as America's minister to France. With their entertaining style heavily influenced by what had experienced in France, all of Washington was impressed with their taste and hospitality.

When Monroe was inaugurated as President in the Spring of 1817, The Executive Mansion had not yet been fully restored form the damage inflicted by the British during the War of 1812. He and First Lady Elizabeth Monroe continued to live at 2017 I St. until the Fall of 1817.

Among the furnishings used in their townhouse home were two sets of china. The amaranth (red) bordered Monroe china is well known. However, there was also a Monroe monogrammed china (shown below) that was also used. These china sets, along with their other beautiful furnishings were moved to The Executive Mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue in September when the President and Mrs. Monroe took up residency.

These are photos of our reproductions, but these are identical to the ones owned by the Monroes. I love the eagle in the center of the large plate above. It is only on the large 12 inch plate and the 9 inch rim soup/individual pasta bowl.
The Monroe Monogram design is one of my favorites that remains "undiscovered" by most.
Here's a link to our entire collection:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Your comments/emails

For those of you who have emailed me, thank you for your notes. I'm glad that you are interested in some of the other related areas that we do work on. So, while we will continue to focus our postings on White House China, I will include some of the other, closely related projects that we always seem to have going on.

For instance, I will try to post later today or over the weekend a story on the 'other' James Monroe china. This monogrammed, French-made china was brought over and used in the rental townhouse that President and Mrs. Monroe had in Washington.

Thanks again for your emails.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Note from Woodmere

Since we are trying to serve you - our readers - I am interested in learing what you might like to see contained in our blog. So, as we are preparing to get ready for 2010, I thought I would take the time and ask for your input. After all, we want try to make this as interactive as we can.

So, if you would....take a couple of moments and let us know what you think:
  • who you are
  • why you stop by and read our blog
  • what kinds of things you would like to see written and posted here
  • any other way that we might be able to help out
You can either post here....or send me and email at I'll answer....promise. And thanks for reading.

Dave Turner

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monroe China

The Monroe 'amaranth' border china is pretty special. We have worked very hard over the past few years to make the vignettes as historically accurate as possible. We appreciate the good comments on the results of our efforts.

Friday, December 4, 2009

White House Chef Roland Mesnier Creates Mount Vernon in Gingerbread

Chef Roland and his team are in the second week(!) of creating this unbelievable gingerbread reproduction of George and Martha Washington's home. There is so much attention to detail, down to the lawn having snow on it!

While he has done many gingerbread mansions (including ones of a little house on Pennsylvania Avenue), each one is different and takes careful planning and very specific execution of the plan. Still, things always have to be adjusted and adapted.

Here's a close up of some of the detail in the farm animals on the Potomac River side of the mansion.

As it nears completion, it is hard to understand all the hard work over two weeks to create such a masterpiece. Amazing! Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier is truly a meastro. I can only hope that you will be able to visit Mount Vernon this holiday season and Chef Mesnier's handiwork.

Make sure you check out Roland's books....he makes desserts seem easy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

White House Chef Roland Mesnier: Mount Vernon Gingerbread

Look tomorrow for posting showing some great shots of former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier's gingerbread replica of the mansion at Mount Vernon. In addition to making the gingerbread mansion, he was also signing a number of his gorgeous books! If you haven't checked them out.....the photos of his scrumptious creations will make your mouth water!

See you on Friday!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Another from Last Night's State Dinner at The White House

This photo from last night's State Dinner shows, indeed, the Eisenhower chargers made by Castleton. With such a large gathering, china from the Esienhower, Clinton, and G.W. Bush adminsitrations had to be used. Whatever place setting you may have had, it was sure to be stylish! (NY Times photo)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Table is Set for Tonight's State Dinner

Clinton china chargers ...looking a lot like the Eisenhower chargers....set for tonight's State Dinner at The White House. (AP photo)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Can't make it to Philadelphia this weekend?

If you can't make it to the Main Line Antique Show this weekend....

....maybe you will be able to check out the exhibit at Chicago's Museum of Science an Industry. The Museum of Science and Industry's new temporary exhibit, "The White House: A Look Inside," offers a photographic timeline including authentic artifacts from administrations throughout history, ranging from White House china to holiday cards. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a detailed replica of the White House. Opening with "Christmas Around the World" and "Holidays of Light" on Friday, 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive. Call 773-684-1414 or visit

Friday, November 20, 2009

More Main Line White House China

Calling it the 'major draw' the White House China exhibit 'Dinner Is Served" portion of this weekend's Main Line Antique Show continues to draw plenty of attention.

Check out this article from today's Philadelphia Inquirer:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dinner is Served: On White House China

Here's link to the local newspaper article for the upcoming Main Line Antique Show, to be held this weekend. See the post below. No doubt it's going to be a terrific event.

Lucky are the ones who are able to attend.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lincoln China....recreated

I know we've posted things on our production before....but I never cease to be amazed at the beautiful recreations that our talented employees produce. We are frequently asked about our production process and we are very proud of the work our associates do.....and we think that having them produced here in America makes a nice difference, too.

Below are the components to a Lincoln plate and above you see our friend Katie applying the decals. From there, the decorated plate is moved to a rack in the kilns and fired, permently fusing the design to the plate itself.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Great Chance to View Presidential China

One of our good friends, Set Momjian and his lovely wife Joan, will be displaying some of their White House China collection at the upcoming Main Line Antiques Show, being held Nov 21-22nd in Wayne, PA.

Certainly the finest private collection of White House China in the country today, this is sure to be a fantastic exhibition.

Here's a link to the show website:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Good Deal....

In honor of Veteran's Day, the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, CA is admission free (normally $10) today. They have special events planned, along with an awards presentation and concerts. The exhibits at the Nixon Library are always first rate and they always display plenty of White House China in their gift shop. And, for the record....the Nixons did not have their own china pattern.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Smithsonian: Museum of American History

With an opportunity to pay a quick visit to the Smithsonian Institution's American History Museum, it was gratifying to see that one of the most popular (at least today) exhibits there was "The American Presidency".
The entire exhibit on our Presidency was jammed with visitors, young and old, which was also great to see.

Lincoln's stovepipe hat, Washington's chair, and many, many other Presidential artifacts are on display with well-written informational laques accompanying each vignette. Some of my favorite items are the items from our Presidents' role as commander-in-chief: President Andrew Jackson's sword from his Louisiana campaign in the War of 1812....President Dwight Eisenhower's miltary uniform....and, even the furniture from the meeting room of the Civil War surrender of the South at Appomattox, with President U.S. Grant. Each amazing in their own right....all together in a fantastic exhibit.

There was even a small section devoted to the china collections of various presidents. Of course, we would always prefer to see larger displays of china (ok, we are partial for a reason), the current showing seems appropriate given all the other terrific items on diplay. From left to right: LBJ dinner plate (with the flower of the 'state' of Dist of Columbia flower inthe center); Reagan China charger plate with presidential seal at 12 o'clock; Hayes dinner plate; Monroe dinner plate;
On the shelve below: Pierce tall compote; John Adams sauce boat;

And, finally...our favorite part of the museum - the gift shop with the display of Woodmere's White House Collection. The store was busy - nice to see - and the pretty young clerk was excited to tell me that she had just sold a Great Seal bowl a few minutes before. Very nice.

Add the Smithsonian's Museum of American History to your list of stops on your next visit to our Nation's capitol.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dining at Monticello: Thomas Jefferson Shows Us How He Entertained

In this coming season where you will most assuredly be welcoming guests to your table, why not combine food and history by getting a copy of "Dining at Monticello: In Good Taste and Abundance". You will initially be captured by the great photography and then, by the wonderful recipes - some written in Jefferson's own hand. Showcasing the many culinary tastes of Thomas Jefferson, this is a terrific book for the food lover in your life. Edited by Damon Lee Fowler, Dining at Monticello came out a couple of years ago that's true. But, these classic recipes will always be in style. You will especially appreciate all the attention to detail in the accompanying historical notes.

And round out the complete Monticello meal ....why not use Woodmere's Jefferson dinner plates? Here's a link to our entire collection:
You will see our attention to authentic detail by some of the beautiful photographs in the book! You can find it at, and other fine book outlets everywhere.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lincoln Wedding Day

Happy Anniversary!

Today is the 167th wedding anniversary for President and Mrs. Lincoln. Anybody know what the right gift is for that anniversary?

I don't believe the picture is of Mrs. Lincoln in her wedding dress, but it looks pretty fancy all the same.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Holiday "Insider" Promotion

"A penny saved is a penny earned" according to our old friend Ben Franklin.

Well, it's great to see so many of our website friends saving as they continue to round out their Woodmere collections with our current Holiday "Insider" Promotion. We've always known that our customers were quick to spot a great deal!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Birthday to John Adams - 1st White House Resident

Today, in 1735, John Adams was born in Massachusetts. The first president to live in the building that would become The White House, Adams and his wife, Abigail, brought with them two sets of china. The blue cornflower design depicted here was likely the first china used for formal dinners at the Exectuive Mansion. Although we have to admit, there could have only been a handful of formal dinners in the short few months the Adams occupied the house before giving way to our third president, Thomas Jefferson.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why the James Madison china is so rare

You may not have ever given it much thought, but the of all the Presidential chinas, one of the rarest is that of President James Madison. On August 24th of 1814, the British burned much of Washington, including The Executive Mansion with nearly all of its furnishings. The engraving below is from the Library of Congress and depicts the Capitol City in flames.                                                        
With all this pillaging and burning, most of the Madison china was lost. So, while all Presidential china is rare and valuable....perhaps one of the most rare is that of our 4th President, James Madison.
Another interesting fact is that when the British were done with their carnage on Washington, they headed to do similar destruction in the city of Baltimore.
However, the folks at Fort McHenry would have none of that and from that great defense of the Baltimore harbor came our national anthem, written by Frederick, Maryland lawyer Francis Scott Key as he stood on the decks of a British ship near what is now the the Francis Scott Key bridge. If you ever pass through that area, look for the signs highlighting the Battle of North Point which was one of the land defenses for Baltimore.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Here's a great 'insider' look at the Vice President's residence at The Naval Observatory with pictures through the years, from  

Occasionally, a Vice Presidential adminstration will have special china created and here is the design Woodmere created for Vice President Quayle. Look s a lot like the Jackson china, don't you think?



We were asked again today...."Where do you make your products?" People seem surprised that our production is located in western Pennsylvania. I always tell people "we have real people....making real products" because it always is such a surprise to everyone.

Made here in America. In Pennsylvania. In New Castle.
(now, isn't that a nice change)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Holiday party planning....

It is such a pretty October day today in Washington, we're wondering what holiday parties are being planned? And, ...which china will get used for each event?

Any favorites you would like to see used?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

White House Everyday China

A shadow is cast across a place setting in President Barack Obama's private dining room on Oct. 13, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza; from

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Heritage of America.....

....Preserved in Porcelain.

That's a line we use a lot, because we are proud of what we do here at Woodmere. The products we produce here in our small studio facility in western Pennsylvania really represent the best of America. They are really representatives of our heritage as our country took shape from the late 1700's through the age of Lincoln and on into the 20th century. Whether it is our White House Collection of presidential china reproductions, our American Treasures Collection, or our Great Seal of America items....all these pieces represent the fabric of our nation's strength throughout the years. Each design....each piece tells a story of American pride and craftsmanship.

And while I am amazed at the many ways that people tell us they use our products, I am always humbled and proud of the fact that people from all parts of our country choose our items for their homes and as gifts for the special people in their lives. Our employees take great pride in the production of our various collections and we certainly appreciate the strong support we receive from you, our customers. Despite the current tough times, with your continued support,we hope to be bringing you our American-made products for many years into the future.

So, again, I thank you and, as always, appreciate your thoughts and comments.

David Turner

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

China from the Clinton Administration

Clinton china......

....whether you like the President or not - the china from his administration is impressive! Wow!

Friday, October 16, 2009

White House Chef Roland Mesnier Returns to Mount Vernon

Former White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier returns to Mount Vernon this November to re-create his famous gingerbread edition of the famed home of George Washington. If you have never seen this or met Chef have missed a rare treat!

Be sure to check the Mount Vernon we site for exact dates, but this will be a highlight of the holiday season to be sure and is a 'must see'. Here's a picture of Roland's work from last year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dishwasher Safe?

We were asked again recently whether our products are dishwasher safe. I appreciate when people ask this as it gives us a chance to set the record straight.

While - to be totally safe - we recommend hand washing especially for our designs and decorations that have precious metals such as gold or platinum in them, an occasional run through a low temp household dishwasher shouldn't be too much of a problem. It is not something we recommend with any frequency. With today's dishwashers, it is mostly the heat from the drying cycle and the harsh chemicals in the detergents that cause problems.

So, if you or someone you know accidently runs your new George Washington dinner plates through the dishwasher once....don't panic. It should be ok. But, next time, get them to wash them by hand if you can.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New President....

We're in the beginnings of working on reproducing another Presidential design and deciding whcih one to do and how it is best researched is always a problem. We had hoped to have it ready for this Fall, but obviously, that won't happen. These projects ALWAYS take more than you anticipate.

But, hopefully, we'll be back with more news very soon. Meanwhile, you may look at some of our new American Maxims trays. We've recently added six new Here's the link to our website:

Friday, October 9, 2009

In 1869, Ulysses S. Grant Annouces....

One hundred and forty years ago today, President Ulysses S. Grant announced to America that former President Franklin Pierce had died. Both the Grant china (above,on the left) and the Pierce china (teapot on the right) are among our favorites. As a matter of fact, I think the Pierce china design would be popular today.

It may one of the few presidential china designs that could be successful without having the White House pedigree.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pat Nixon: Friend to White House China Room

While there was no Nixon White House china design, First Lady Pat Nixon was certainly a friend of chinas of the past - and future - White House occupants. Her little-heralded update of the White House China Room in 1975 with much assistance from curator Clement Conger is profiled in this article linked below:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

President Carter Fishing Lodge China

With the re-opening of the Carter Museum in Atlanta, I am reminded of a project Woodmere did espressly for President Carter, with his monogram "JEC" in the center. While not exactly White House China, here's a photo of the china we created for President Carter's fishing lodge with fishing flies around the rim and,in the center, his monogram "JEC". What a great design and perfect for the former President and First Lady.

It's great when a design fits so well with both the place and the people!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

President's "Other" China" Washington and Lincoln

Speaking of hot presidents..........
When most people think of china associated with Presidents Washington or Lincoln, they typically think of the two famous china designs shown in the heading of this issue of our newsletter. While each of the two designs shown above are well-known and have intriguing histories, there are also other china patterns which were used by our two most famous presidents.

In the case of Washington, one of the most important chinas was the Sevres china he used for state dinners and for entertaining foreign dignitaries. This simple, gold banded china was purchased in February of 1790 from Comte de Mustier, along with other household furnishings. Washington's diary entry for Feb 3rd of that year stated he "fixed on some furniture of the Ministers," which included mirrors, sideboards, and chairs as well as a large service of white Sevres porcelain with gold dentate -dent-de-loup - borders. Washington later added pieces which his secretary, Tobias Lear, secured from other notable French factories "at a substantial discount" from what the Sevres factory wanted to charge. On some of these additional purchases, Washington added his monogram as shown in the picture.

In the case of Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln's penchant for spending was rather well-known and apparently she decided that she and the President needed new china for his recent election to a second term. Perhaps tired of the bad publicity she received with the purchase of the Selforino purple bordered china (commonly known as "the Lincoln china"), she decided on the second, buff-colored border pattern purchased from the Philadelphia firm of James K. Kerr, whose establishment was known as "China Hall". This service was made up of 511 pieces which arrived on February 13, 1865. An additional 46 pieces arrived several weeks later. Hardly had this china been put into use when President Lincoln was assassinated in April of that year. This service is believed to be of French manufacture, but the actual manufacturer is unknown as the original pieces are unmarked, except for common symbols and numerals that were used on various porcelains made during that time.

For more information on Woodmere's Washington State China, please click on this link:

For more information on Woodmere's Lincoln Second Term China, please click on this link:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Lincoln is HOT....

At least according to the folks at Yale......

The other day in the Yale Daily news, there was an article talking about how the 200th anniversary of our Civil War president kicked off what appears to be - at least for now - an unquenchable thirst for all things Lincoln. Of course, a certain President Obama being from Illinois didn't hurt.

Anyway, we like Lincoln, too. Here's a link to the Yale article:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Speaking of Presidential Libraries in the news....

The Richard Nixon Library in California seems to be upsetting folks. As the federal museum with the most statutes of communists leaders, it has drawn the attention of anti-communists. Open since 1990, the musuem was initially privately funded and now is being operated by the National Archives.

Seems as though some people don't think we should show statues of some of the world leaders at the time that President Nixon was president and exchanged views with. While we can understand the views of those who strongly reject the political thinking and actions of these communist leaders, its hard to understand we should ignore that they existed during Nixon's presidency, especially when you consider President Nixon's diplomatic handling of those relationships. Here's a link to an Los Angeles Times article describing the situation:,0,6352524.story

Over the years, the Nixon Library has done a great job at exhibiting White House China and normally has a number of pieces on hand, along with many of the various diplomatic gifts that the President and Mrs. Nixon received. We love working with all the Presidential libraries and, certainly the Nixon Library is one of our favorites!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

President Jimmy Carter Museum Re-Opens Today

THE CARTER PRESIDENTIAL MUSEUM WILL RE-OPEN WITH A GALA CELEBRATION ON THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1st at 10:30am. - The ceremony will be on the front lawn of the Carter Presidential Library and is free and open to the public. Following the 45 minute ceremony and ribbon-cutting the all new Carter Presidential Museum, will be open to the public at no charge (on October 1st in honor of President Carter's 85th Birthday). Public Parking is off of North Avenue, Just South of City Hall East. There will be continuous free shuttle service to and from the Carter Presidential Library (just a few minutes away). The parking is free and there will be security there throughout the day.
Don't miss this opportunity to see and hear President and Mrs. Carter, Vice President Walter Mondale, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, the Reverend Joseph Lowery, Museum Director Jay Hakes, Acting U.S. Archivist Adrienne Thomas, and others as we celebrate the All New Carter Presidential Museum. If unavailable to attend, please watch the gala reopening via live webcast.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

G-20 Presidential China

Ok....we've seen the photos and read the story. First Lady Michelle Obama's gift of a custom tea service is not a bad idea....but, personally, I would have liked the design to be a bit more upbeat and warmer. I know, I know...Steel City....Rose on the bottom...referencing Lincoln and all that. But we would have designed something a bit more inviting and something that looked a little less industrial.

Having said that, we are glad the First Lady chose a gift from a category so near and dear to us. Perhaps next time, we could recommend an alternative?

Hmmm.....any thoughts on what could have been a more appropriate design?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Inpsiration and Information

If you have ever wondered how we research and come up with details on Presidential china or decide which Presidents to reproduce....we tend to do it the old fashioned way and that is to continually search and look for bits and pieces of information that will help us bring out the best and most authentic reproductions possible.

For instance, a book we've been reviewing lately is a 2007 book by John Bowman, "The History of the American Presidency". It's a pretty quick read, filled with anecdotes, and stories. Most of what we read or learn about an individual president never gets actually used in our reproductions (or collateral materials). However, it does provide a 'texture' for us to better understand that particular president and to help us to convey that in our presentation of his china.

It's a process and a continual one.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Main Line Antiques Show

With the Presidential China of Mr and Mrs. Set Momjian as its centerpiece, the popular Main Line Antiques Show returns for its fourth season.

Set aside the upcoming weekend of November 21-22 and travel to Wayne, Pennsylvania for a show that is not to be missed. Mr and Mrs. Momjian are the foremost collectors of Presidential and White House China and their collection has been seen around the world. Now, it comes back home to suburban Philadelphia!

Here's a link to the show's website: