American Presidential China (Hardcover)

The Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

By Susan Gray Detweiler, David L. Barquist (Introduction by)

Yale University Press, 9780300135930, 91pp.

Publication Date: March 28, 2008

List Price: 24.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


The china used by the First Families, both at the White House and in their private homes, reveals a fascinating story of culture and society as it has evolved in the United States since its early days. In this handsome book, which documents over 200 rare items in the remarkably comprehensive Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Collection, a beautiful display of tableware unfolds as readers learn of trends in taste, style, and modes of entertaining, from George Washington to Ronald Reagan.


Among the featured objects are Washington’s white-and-gold Sèvres porcelain that he purchased from a French diplomat recalled at the outbreak of the French Revolution; James Monroe’s gilt-edged French porcelain service, the first state service commissioned by the White House in 1817; and John F. Kennedy’s understated Wedgwood creamware used at his Georgetown home. Collectors and historians will value the information on how the pieces were commissioned, designed, manufactured, and imported.

About the Author

Susan Gray Detweiler has served as Robert L. McNeil, Jr.’s curator of ceramics since 1969. Her books include American Presidential China (1975) and George Washington’s Chinaware (1982). David L. Barquist is the H. Richard Dietrich, Jr., Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.