From a service for George Washington (President 1789-1797)
Designed by Andreas Everardus van Braam Houckgeest, Dutch, 1739 - 1801
As president of the United States from 1789 to 1797, George Washington entertained fellow politicians and foreign dignitaries at his executive mansion in Philadelphia (the nation’s capital from 1790 to 1800). The decoration of the president’s house, including its tableware, was carefully chosen to represent the new nation. The porcelain service to which this plate belonged satisfied such requirements, bearing an elaborate program of symbolic motifs: a serpent swallowing its tail (eternity), fifteen states linked by a strong chain, a Latin motto about strength and glory, and Martha Washington’s monogram on a golden disk. Dutch trader Andreas van Braam Houckgeest designed the service as a present for Martha and brought it from the port of Canton, China, to Philadelphia in 1796.