On April 24, 1796, Dutch merchant Andreas Everardus van Braam Houckgeest (1739-1801) arrived in Philadelphia from Canton with "A Box of China for Lady Washington." Van Braam designed the porcelain's decoration, which symbolizes his belief in the unity of the colonies that formed the United States and his scorn for their former ruler, King George III. The initials "MW" shine at the center of the design.


Circular saucer with a plain edge and a shallow foot ring, decorated in overglaze polychrome enamels and gilt. The center of the well features the interlocking black initials “MW” surrounded by a green laurel wreath at the center of a gilded sunburst. Below the sunburst is a ribbon, touched red at the tips, with the motto “DECUS ET TUTAMEN AB ILLO" written in black. A blue snake, biting its tail, with gilded scales and its top outlined in black, encircles the top of the rim exterior. Below it is a chain of fifteen wide green links outlined in black joined by smaller gilded links, outlined in red; each of the green links contains the name of a state: “VIRGINIA.”, “KENTUCKY”, “No CAROLINA.”, “So CAROLINA.”, “GEORGIA.”, “NEW HAMPSHIRE”, “MASSACHUSETTS.”, “VERMONT”, “RHODE ISLAND.”, “C[ONN]ECTICUT.”, “REW YORK”, “IERSEY.”, “PENNSYLVANIA”, “DELAWARE”, and “MARYLAND”, respectively. Traces of gilt appear along the rim.

Pattern name: States






Porcelain (hard-paste), enamel, gilt


Overall (H x W x D): 1 5/16 in. x 6 3/16 in. x 6 3/16 in. (3.33 cm x 15.72 cm x 15.72 cm)

Credit Line

Purchase, 1981

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

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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