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George Washington's Blue Canton China Dinner Plate 

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George Washington's Blue Canton China Dinner Plate 

- Item No.

The most fashionable tables in the early American Republic were set with blue and white Canton ware

Key Features

  • This lovely Blue Canton China Dinner Plate was used by George and Martha Washington
  • The Washington's had a preference for Blue Canton China and owned a number of different patterns
  • Blue and white chinese porcelain was in demand well into the 19th century
  • This particular dinner plate has been authenticated in a letter by the curator of Mount Vernon
  • The plate was formerly owned by Martha Washington's granddaughter, Eleanor Custis Lewis
  • Circa 1763-1783
  • Diameter: 9"

Item Details

  • Diameter:
    9" Inches
  • Period:
    18th Century
  • Origin:
    China/Japan
This lovely Blue Canton China Dinner Plate was used by the first presidential couple George and Martha Washington on the many occasions that they entertained at home.  Committed to protocol and following European Royal traditions the first lady and her husband did not dine in private residences other than their own. This tradition put particular emphasis and importance on their in-house dining ritual and as a result great care and consideration was taken in picking out the best linens, cutlery and table service for their dinner parties and for everyday use. The Washington's had a preference for Blue Canton China and owned a number of different patterns of this particular style.

 Blue and white Chinese porcelain, much like the present example, was in demand well into the 19th century, and has continued to be popular as a symbol of heritage for many American families. The most fashionable tables in the early American Republic were set with blue and white Canton ware, so called because of the great Chinese trading port of its origin.  Blue and white Canton ware was both prized as elegant enough for formal occasions and durable enough for everyday china and was used daily in the Mount Vernon home of the first lady and the president.

This particular dinner plate has been authenticated in a letter by the curator of the Mount Vernon collection as a plate formerly owned by Eleanor Custis Lewis of Woodlawn Plantation. Mrs. Lewis was the granddaughter of Martha Washington and she was raised by the Washingtons following her father's death. At the time of Martha Washington's death, Mrs. Lewis inherited "all the blue and white china in common use."  This service almost certainly included many pieces of the "Table China fine blue and white" shipped to Mt. Vernon in April of 1763 as well as the "27 Dishes" purchased by the president in 1783 form tavern keeper Samuel Fraunces in New York. The curator of the Mt. Vernon collection, Carole Borchert Cadou, described this particular dinner plate as "a stellar example in a remarkable state of preservation."

Circa 1763-1783

Diameter: 9"

Provenance:
Eleanor Parke Lewis
Lawrence Lewis
H.L.D. Lewis (the great granddaughter of Martha)
Thos. Birch's Sons, Auctioneers, Philadelphia, December 15, 1891, Lot 143
Joseph E. Fields, II
Hendershott Museum Consultants
Claude Harkins

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