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"If you should be in want of a new set of china it is in my power to procure a very genteel set, table & tea - what renders this china doubly valuable & handsome is the order of the eagle engraved on it in honor of the Cincinnati - it has upwards of 306 pieces and is offered at the prime cost, 150 dollars." - Col. "Light-Horse Harry" Lee to George Washington, July 3, 1786.

As the Revolutionary War drew to a close in spring 1783, French and American officers formed the Society of the Cincinnati in the name of mutual support and friendship. Titled after legendary fifth-century B.C.E. Roman farmer Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, who left his plow to defend Rome and returned home following the conflict, the Society was open to all officers allied with the American cause and their descendants.

George Washington, who like Cincinnatus resumed a private life of farming after the war, purchased an extensive Chinese export porcelain service decorated with the Society's insignia. Each piece features the winged figure of Fame, trumpeting and holding aloft the Society's emblem - a bald eagle with oval medallion containing a depiction of Cincinnatus' receiving the sword. Although Col. Lee estimated the service contained "upwards of 306 pieces," Washington's accounts record he acquired 302 pieces. Approximately 130 of these are known to exist. Mount Vernon's teapot is believed to be the sole extant example.

See also soup plates, W-483, W-2559, and W-519; round dinner plates, W-1436/B, W-1436/G, W-1436/I, W-1436/ J, and W-1436/K; platter, W-1436/D; tea bowl, W-1436/A; tea caddy, W-3024/A; custard cups with lids, W-1436/C.1-2 and W-1436/F.1-2; custard cup lid, W-3045; tureen stand, W-4069; sauce tureen and lid, W-1436/H.1-2; and sauce tureen stand, W-4522.
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Date

c. 1784-1785


Geography

  • Made - China
  • Decorated - China

Material/Technique

Porcelain (hard-paste), enamel, gilt


Dimensions

Overall (teapot): 4 1/2 in. × 9 in. × 5 1/8 in. (11.43 cm × 22.86 cm × 13.02 cm)
Overall (lid): 1 1/4 in. × 3 3/4 in. × 3 1/2 in. (3.18 cm × 9.53 cm × 8.89 cm)


Credit

Purchase, 1944


Object Number

W-1436/E


Colors


Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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