Yesterday I mentioned our moving items out of the President’s Study in the First White House. In so doing, I was struck by the many small artifacts we have in this room.
One unusual “dust able” is a Victorian arrangement of three large stuffed birds under glass, arranged in a naturalistic wooded setting. The arrangement is covered by an oblong glass dome on a black lacquer base. These must have been very popular back in the day!
Next on a mahogany pedestal is a brass candelabrum with five branches, which holds six candles and has many spear-type prisms. Nearby, on the mantle are a pair of porcelain bases, one painted with a windmill scene and one a farm scene. Cast iron andirons and an iron, steel and brass fender adorn the fireplace.
On Jefferson Davis’s desk is an 1848 Webster’s Dictionary owned by President Davis. Also on the desk is a bust of the President by Alexander Galt. It is one of the best-known images of Jefferson Davis, done twenty seven years after his death.
A handsome 19-th century French lift-top Tantalus is on the center table. It’s cabinet is finished in black lacquer and it holds four fine glass decanters and thirteen small gilt-decorated wine glasses, (except one is broken). Little cabinets like this were used for liquor storage and could be locked and kept out of reach. The name “Tantalus” refers to their “tantalizing” potential consumers because of their inaccessibility!
The glasses were washed by White House ladies today, and the cabinet dusted and polished. It looks way better now!