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Presidential Memorabilia

The Martha Stewart Show, November 2007

Barry Landau began collecting presidential artifacts when he was just 10 years old. Now, five decades later, he's accumulated 1.2 million pieces and has managed to befriend several of the presidents along the way. Today, Barry shares a sampling of his prized collection with Martha.

Andrew Jackson President's House Staffordshire Plate, circa 1829
Called "historic Staffordshire," and made in Staffordshire, England, this plate was called historic because it depicts famous American views such as the White House, and came in six colors: red, green, blue, brown, black, and purple. As Americans started to travel more, it was prestigious to show these famous American "historic views" and talk about where they'd been as they sat around the dining room table.

Abraham Lincoln's White House Plate, circa 1861
The plate is French Limoge, which is made in the town of Limoge, France. It is rumored that Mrs. Lincoln's sister was living in the South during the Civil War, and Mrs. Lincoln smuggled pieces of the "Purple Set," as this pattern of White House china was known, to her sister to sell and make needed money.

Bill Clinton's White House Champagne Flutes, circa 1999
These Wedgwood Crystal flutes were obtained at the White House Millennium Dinner celebration on December 31, 1999, the largest party in White House history.

John Tyler's Silk Menu from Barnum's Hotel in Baltimore, 1843
The earliest example of a presidential menu, this collectible item features tin fish around its border to represent the town of Baltimore as a prominent seaport. Menus were started by refugees of the French Revolution at Barnum's, a prominent hotel of the era, to advise the diner what was coming next so they could gauge their intake of food according to the next course.

Theodore Roosevelt's Copper Menu, 1903
Given to Barry Landau as gift from President Roosevelt's daughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, this menu was for a dinner held in Roosevelt's honor, given by the mayor of Butte, Montana, on May 27, 1903. The dinner followed Roosevelt's address at the Minnesota State Fair, in which he called for America to assume its responsibilities as one of the great nations of the world.

John F. Kennedy's New York Birthday Menu, Ticket, and Program, 1961
The menu was made on standard White House stock for a dinner that was held at the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York -- the same night Marilyn Monroe infamously sang "Happy Birthday" to the president.

Resources
Find more presidential memorabilia information in Barry Landau's latest book, "The President's Table."

Comments (2)

  • Ronstevens 16 Jan, 2011

    Barry Landau's book is great. What an amazing young man. Believe it or not there is also an organization for political collectors. Association of Political Items Collectors (www.apic.us). I also like Lori Ferber Collectibles, they have hundreds of unique presidential items and collectibles www.loriferber.com

  • MiamiNative47 13 Sep, 2008

    I too collect Pres. Memorabilia. Loved show and would love MS to have more collectors showing their collectibles; in particular, would love to see: Depression Era and Elegant Glassware (Gene Florence might do a show); USA Pottery; USA Costume Jewelry (Sarah Coventry) (Jackie O wore some pieces while in the White House and they have since been reproduced by others); kitchenware of the 50-70s; loved long ago segment on Mercury Glass--please do it again! xoxo ShirleyJPringle@gmail.com