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Lincoln, Obama dinner plates on display at Hardesty-Higgins House

A Lincoln state china dinner plate that was part of the official dining service at the White House during the Grant or Arthur administration is now on display at the Hardesty-Higgins House in Downtown Harrisonburg. On loan to Harrisonburg Tourism from Harrisonburg residents Myron and June Hoosaflook, this plate was a part of June’s mother’s household in New Jersey for as long as June can remember and was recently transported to Harrisonburg.

Made and decorated in France for a company in Washington, D.C., the Lincoln state china service featured a design chosen by Mary Lincoln upon becoming the First Lady of the United States in 1861. The plate bears a purplish-red border in “Solferino,” a color fashionable at the time, a gold braided edge design in the Moorish motif “Alhambra,” and a central image featuring a version of the arms of the United States. This china, often referred to as the “Solferino,” “Royal Purple,” or Lincoln state service set, was later reordered in 1873 during the Grant administration and in 1884 during the Arthur administration to supplement the pieces of the Lincoln set. The mark “Fabriqué par Haviland & Co. pour J.W. Boteler & Bro., Washington” was printed on the backs of the reordered pieces and is visible on the piece on display at the Hardesty-Higgins House.

Also on display is an Obama Inaugural Commemorative Plate decorated and donated by Silver Lake Mill in Rockingham County. The design honoring the 44th president was printed as a transfer using ceramic pigments and 22-karat gold suspended in a printable fluid and was applied to the plate by hand. It features a dark blue band, a gold inscription of the historic event and a central gold image of the White House. Silver Lake Mill makes a number of inaugural products, including several different plate patterns for the public and for private customers.

This historic display featuring both plates is viewable by the public daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from now until President’s Day at Harrisonburg Tourism and Visitor Services in the Hardesty-Higgins House at 212 South Main Street in Harrisonburg.


– Staff Report

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