At Martha Washington’s invitation, French officers of General Rochambeau’s army dined at Mount Vernon on July 20, 1782. The Comte de Custine de Sarreck, commander of the Saintonge regiment, sent ahead of his arrival a splendid tea and coffee service specifically made for the Washingtons at his Niderviller porcelain factory. The monogram GW decorates each piece.
The service’s stunning array of gilded and enameled borders, each with its own pattern number painted on the pieces’ undersides, suggests Custine intended it to advertise his wares to a new American market.
Gifts of porcelain were common between the French aristocracy and Americans who traveled to Paris. The service Custine presented to the Washingtons is, however, the only known instance of 18th-century French porcelain crafted for an American recipient.