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Item   Title MB Now at Next bid Bids New bid Max bid  
23   Mary Todd Lincoln  $300 Unopened $300 0 You must login to place a bid.

#23 - Mary Todd Lincoln

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Mary Todd’s ‘buff’ White House china

A dinner plate from the ‘buff’ china service set ordered by Mary Todd Lincoln circa 1865 from J. K. Kerr of Philadelphia, whose establishment was known as China House. The plate measures 9.5″ in diameter and is decorated with a buff band within gold gilt borders encircling the rim and a gilt circle in the center. In fine condition, with light wear to the decorative gilt. Accompanied by paperwork concerning the history of this piece, including a letter from The Horse Soldier, a photocopy of a notarized letter from the great-granddaughter of the original purchaser of the set, and photocopies of letters from both the White House and Smithsonian Institution accepting donations of other pieces from the set.

Mary Todd Lincoln ordered a new set of presidential china for the beginning of her husband’s second term in office, with records showing that it was billed to the White House on January 30, 1865, denoted as, ‘One extra large French China Dining, Dessert and Coffee Service decorated on a white ground delicate Buff border with burnished Gold Lines.’ The primary delivery of the set is recorded in the National Archives as taking place on February 13, 1865. Mary Todd had not yet paid for the china when her husband was assassinated two months later, leaving Andrew Johnson to approve the expenses. Although he presumably disliked the service—the Johnson White House opted to replenish the stock of the ‘solferino’ china from Lincoln’s first term—he made good on the bill, with two payments recorded in August 1865 and February 1866. When Chester A. Arthur ordered the redecoration of the White House in 1881, the remnants of three china services were packed away in storage before later being sold in a public deaccession sale. This piece was part of the set purchased by Sylvanus Wilson Hall at auction in Philadelphia during the 1880s.

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