Mrs. Arabella Huntington’s “Best” Copeland and Garrett plates at San Marino Ranch

By Nancy Armitage

I am super excited today – Saturday, January 11, 2020, I had a little breakthrough with my Huntington research. I knew of Mrs. Arabella Huntington’s: “Best” English Copeland & Garrett porcelain plates; but I didn’t know what the plates looked like. I found a picture of this porcelain pattern: tea cup, a saucer, & a fancy scalloped heavy gilded larger plate! On the scalloped plate, it appears to have 4 wicker triangular patterns coming together at the center; stars at the intersections. It has lots of delicate French gold swirls & the rim plate is painted with thick layer of gold. A company named Worthpoint was selling these porcelain pieces; they titled these items: “Superb 1900’s Copeland Garrett white & gold teacup & saucer, & cake plate 5794” (#5794 that’s the pattern number). In the back of the plate, a green crown on top with a laurel wreath over the Copeland Garrett logo. So somehow these plates are connected with the English Royals. Copeland Garrett dinnerware was made in Stoke-on-Trent, England; it was made from 1833-1847.

The domestic & social side of the Huntingtons interests me so much! I want to know everything about their life. All of Arabella’s “entertainments”, & their tablescapes for luncheons & dinners. What kind of tablecloths & napkins did Mrs. Huntington use? Were the Huntington napkins embroidered with their initials? What did their plates look like? The Huntingtons would host formal luncheons that could have been 4 courses (usually with 12 guests in attendance) & formal dinners with 6-8 courses. In Arabella Huntington’s NYC & SF Huntington Mansions- they would have fancy Gilded Age dinners with 12-16 dinner courses. The Huntingtons had the servant staff to help them achieve these very fancy meals. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

Isn’t it pretty?? So here is what we know from the San Marino Ranch archives where the Huntington Mansion was located. This large English-made porcelain “service set” was listed in Mr. Henry E. Huntington’s brown inventory [Huntington Mansion] book p.111 at the Ranch. This inventory book most likely was created when Mr. Huntington died in 1927. This inventory lists below, help us to understand some of the multi-course dinners & luncheons that the Huntington hosted. By the way, in the Huntington’s Butler’s Pantry, there were 40+ cabinets of porcelain plates,! The Huntingtons had 100’s of Gorham silver pieces like vegetable covered dishes with 5 different Gorham Silver Coffee and Tea service, & 14 “Breakfast Sets” (fine bone china sets with tea & coffee pots), & 4 sets of Crystal ware!! There are 716 plates just in this Copeland Garrett “Best” service plate set, alone. Oh my!

Breakfast Set : they had 12 Porridge plates, 36 Compotes (Fruit with Brandied peaches), 24 Egg cups, 24 Porridge plates, 48 Coffee cups & 48 saucers.

Tea Reception set: 50 Tea cups & 37 saucers, 23 Demitasse cups, 3 Pickle trays, 24 Demitasse saucers, 48 Coffee cups, & 48 Coffee saucers.

Dinner Set: 19 Bouillon cup & 19/27 Bouillon saucers, 24 Soup Plates, 21 Bread & butter plates (large), 34 Dinner Plates, 10 Salad dishes (crescent shapes) [these could be finger bowls], 37 Dessert plates, 5 platters in nest, 2 Round Chop platters, 6 Vegetable dishes, 2 Sauce bowls with trays, 4 Bread plates, 1 Gravy bowl with covered tray, 24 Demi Tasse saucers

Luncheon Set: 12 Soup Plates, 15 bouillon cup, 16 Bread & Butter Dishes, 14 Salad Dishes (crescent shape for crab or shrimp salad), 13 Dinner plates, 1 Gravy dish with cover, 12 Dessert Plates, 2 large Covered Vegetable dish, 2 medium & 2 small covered Vegetable dishes.

Mrs. Huntington’s “Best” Copeland Garrett – white & gold set was located in the Huntington’s Butler’s Pantry (the large room just north of the Dining Room). By the numbers of the plates, it looks like it might have originally it had been a set for 60 dinner guests. It was Mrs. Huntington’s fanciest porcelain plate ware at the San Marino Ranch. So I assume the Huntingtons used it for special occasions. Like Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Years which they celebrated in 1922 & 1923 at the San Marino Ranch and later 1925 &1926. There seems to be a lot of plates missing on the list (above), so maybe the Huntington’s used them for tea parties.

So why don’t we get the privledge of knowing the “fine porcelain pattern name” of this large fancy plate set?? In the 1927 inventory, it was indicated on each page with the letter “E” or “L”. “E” meant for Huntington “Estate”- meaning the estate received the items (which was Mr. Huntington’s 3 daughters: Clara, Marian, & Elizabeth Huntington; his son, Howard had died in 1922. And also Archer Huntington would have inherited many of Mrs. Huntington fine silver, fine bone china and crystal ware. The items labeled “L” meant the items were to stay at the Huntington Library, later to become a museum. All the Huntington’s fine bone china & porcelains plates, silver, & crystal glasses went to the estate. Sadly, no details were noted for the “E” marked items & a little details for the paintings for the Huntington Library.

Side note on this subject, on Feb. 23, 1922 Mr. Huntington added to his will an addition that read: “Clauses in Bill of Sale & Will (H. E. Huntington – From Bill of Sale: February 23, 1922 – all books, manuscripts, printing, & writings, consisting the Library of said Henry E. Huntington whether Los Angeles Co. State of California or the City of New York, State of New York or elsewhere…..From the will 1st codicil, 3rd paragraph: “All Modern furniture contained in my home at San Marino except tables under the paintings but including silverware, linens, bric-a-brac, & prints, except old prints… furnishing, the apts. & house by servants & caretakers. I give & bequeath to my sister, Caroline Holladay & my daughters, Clara H. Perkins, Elizabeth Metcalf, & Marian Huntington to be divided between them as they may see fit”. Aren’t we lucky to be able to enjoy all those gorgeous ornate tables under the Huntington’s beautiful rare paintings.??

Mrs. Arabella Huntington loved French Roquefort cheese. It was a staple in all her mansions. I found this appetizer recipe in one of Mr. Huntington’s rare books called Tried & True Los Angeles Cookbook, Los Angeles (1913) :

Roquefort Cheese, Alexandria

This recipe comes from the elegant hotel called Hotel Alexandria, in downtown Los Angeles. From 1906 to the end of 1920, this elite hotel was the social scene of Los Angeles, CA.

1/2 c. Roquefort cheese

2 t. baby chives or French tarragon

1 dessert spoon sherry

1/2 c. butter

dash paprika

2 t. anchovy butter

Serve on celery branches. [or bread toast with this spread on top & baby chives sprinkled on top].

Mrs. Arabella Huntington had many opportunities to purchased this English Copeland & Garrett service set in England; Most likely she bought it at Harrod’s London, an antique store, or Duveen Galleries in London. In the 1880’s-1890’s, Collis & Arabella Huntington went to Europe once a year; sometimes they stayed at Browns Hotel, London. On Oct. 28, 1889, Clara Huntington (CPH’s adopted daughter) got married to Prince Francis Hatzfeldt Wildenburg in at Brompton Oratory at St. Wilfrid’s Chapel London, England. They also could have stayed at their stepdaughters’: Princess Clara Huntington von Hatzfeldt mansion in London or in their Windsor, England estate. The Huntingtons, on Aug. 6, 1895 Archer M. Huntington married his 1st wife Helen Manchester Gates in London, England. Collis P. Huntington & Arabella D. Huntington were sailing home to America; after Archer wedding, on August 14, 1895 sailed on the “RMS Majestic” (Cunard) from London to New York City.

Mrs. Arabella D. Huntingtons’s European Tour travel days

Often, when Arabella traveled aboard she had the ability to buy large “Steamship Trunks” & fill them to the brim with treasures like porcelain plates. In the 1902, the widow of Collis P. Huntington was traveling on the ocean liner “RMS “Oceanic” (Cunard) with her son, Archer & his 1st wife, Helen Gates Huntington. Arabella did not mind paying duty. Coming into America she paid a large amount of $31,800.00 on duty of $70,000.00 on travel purchases. Most women would have put up a fight, but they call her “a Paragon of Travelers” for her cooperation.

Mr. and Mrs. H. E. & Arabella Huntington travel days in London

In 1913, the year H. E. Huntington & Araballa got married, we know H.E. Huntington stayed at Claridge’s Hotel in London. Sir Joseph Duveen had a large suite & offered it to Mr. Henry E. Huntington. From the Huntington archives, another English hotel & a restaurant menu show that the Huntingtons went to: In the Huntington menu collection: On Sept. 11, 1922 a menu existed for Ye Olde Cheshyre Cheese, London & also we know that on July 16, 1924, Mr. & Mrs. H. E. & Arabella Huntington stayed at Hotel Cecil with Rotary Club of London, England.

“RMS Olympic” (Cunard) ship dates & “Olympic” Menu

On October 30, 1922 Mr. & Mrs. H.E. Huntington “Arabella & Edwards” sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on the White Star line,”RMS Olympic” ship. With their large entourage they traveled from either London or France to New York City, NY. The “Olympic” was the biggest ocean liner in the world at the time.

Several RMS “Olympic” menus that is preserved in the Huntington archives: the Dinner Menu: Hors d’oeuvres, Grapefruit Oponto, Soup Course: Consomme Tosca or Potage Chartreuse, Fish course: Poached Halibut Marquery or Fillets of Sole Tartare, Game Course: Quail en Cocotte / Verte Pre, Salad Course: Globe Artichoke Vinaigrette, Entree Course: Ribs & Sirloin of Beef Raifort, Roast Capon with Cranberry Sauce, French Green Beans, Patina Rice, Eggplant, Boiled Brown & Duchesse Potatoes, Wild Duck & Fried Hominy, Salad Orange, COLD: Boar’s Head, Gitana Pudding, Souffles Ananas, Patisserie Francaise, ICES: Tutti-Frutti & Lemon Dessert.

Hearts of Lettuce, Roquefort Dressing (RMS “Olympic” White Star menu, 1922)

This is a wonderful salad served on Cunard ships or Delmonico’s or fine steakhouses across America. In some restaurants in the LA area, this is called a “Molly Salad” or a wedge salad. It is rich and delicious!

1 head of iceberg lettuce, cut into 4ths

1/2c. bacon, crispy

1 c. tomatoes, small cubes

1/2 c. Roquefort cheese, crumbled on the top


Homemade Roquefort Dressing

3/4 c. Societe Roquefort Cheese

4 oz. cream cheese (for thickness)

1/4 c. half & half

1/2 c. sour cream

1 garlic clove, crushed

dash Worchestershire sauce

white pepper

squeeze of one lemon

Lawry’s seasoning salt

Mixed peppercorns, finely ground

Blend all ingredients except Roquefort with a hand blender for a couple of seconds. Crumble in the French Roquefort cheese. Drizzle on lettuce. Makes 1 c. Recipe: Nancy Armitage

Document: HEH Coll. HEH 38/6 uncat (Huntington Mansion brown inventory book & Clauses in Bill of Sale & will – H. E. Huntington); HEH Coll. HEH Eph E42-22 & HEH COll. EPH E42-41 & HEH Coll. EPH E42-26 (Olympic Dinner Menu) HEH Coll. HEH Box 199 (Princess Clara Huntington von Hatzfeldt wedding invitation/personal documents of HEH’s family ) at the Huntington Library San Marino, CA / NY Passenger List arrival list Ellis Island for August 14, 1895 / / Rare Book: Tried & true Los Angeles Cookbook (1913) at Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, 1902 Kansas City Medical Index Arabella Huntington & her son Archer on “RMS Oceanic” ship paying high duties on travel purchases (don’t ask me why this tidbit of information was in a medical journal) .

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