WASHINGTON -- Nancy Reagan has helped to design a new set of White House china, costing nearly $1,000 a place setting, the first lady's press secretary said Saturday.
Mrs. Reagan will pay Lenox China Inc. $209,508 for the set from funds donated to the White House Historical Association.
Sheila Tate, the first lady's press secretary, said Mrs. Reagan designed the china with the help of a representative of the company, selecting her favorite color red as a border, etched in gold on ivory plates with a raised gold presidential seal.
She said the White House is purchasing at cost and the orginal design will not be on public sale 'to preserve its historical integrity.'
The 4,732-piece china set, which cost $952 for each of the 220 place settings, was ordered last July. Some of the China will be delivered in December, Mrs. Tate said.
Mrs. Tate said the White House has not ordered a complete set of china since 1951, when Bess Truman bought a green and gold-bordered china for the executive mansion.
Lady Bird Johnson, who launched a national beautification program while in the White House, bought china with a wild flower decoration but it was not a complete set, Mrs. Tate said.
Pat Nixon ordered a new set of china for the White House in 1974 but cancelled the order when she realized her husband was going to resign from office.
Mrs. Tate said there has been a lot of breakage over the years and a full china service has been 'badly needed' for a long time.
Each new place setting totals 19 pieces and includes a fingerbowl, a soup cup, a bouillon cup, a berry bowl, a demitasse cup, a service plate and a salad plate. Extra demitasse cups and tea cups were ordered along with 72 larger platters, used mostly for state dinners.
The White House normally invites 128 guests to a state dinner. The old sets of china will be used for smaller dinners.
Still in use is the crystal from Morgantown, W.Va., which Jacqueline Kennedy selected for her White House tenure.
The White House Historial Association collected $822,641 from private donors earlier this year and partof the money was used to refurbish the Reagan's upstairs living quarters.