Cabinet Plates at the Hotel Huntington-Langham Pasadena, CA (abt. 1913-2022)

By Nancy Armitage

Lisa & I oogling over the beautiful “Cabinet plates”, cake stands, & teapots at the Hotel Huntington-Langham in Pasadena, CA. The lime green plates with gold edges could be Coalport ; I also remember seeing “Botanical Cabinet plates” years ago. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

In May 2022, my friend Lisa & I dressed up for “Afternoon Tea” & drove up to the Langham-Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, CA. We wanted to enjoy a relaxed formal afternoon tea. We had recently been working very hard on a art research project.

This is a vintage elegant footed “compote” or dessert stand which could possibly be made by Coalport (with gold & dark blue on a white background & with gold grape leaves on the edge). Photo credit: Nancy Armitage

As I admired these “Cabinet plates” at the Huntington-Langham Hotel, I was always thinking….could these fine bone china & porcelain plates have been owned by Mr. & Mrs. Henry E. Huntington (Arabella)? There are numerous similarities to the Huntington’s huge amounts of porcelain plates at the San Marino Ranch & and at the Hotel Huntington. This hotel Mr. Huntington once owned.

I found a very long list of fine bone china plates in the Huntington Mansion Inventory book/list. The Huntingtons owned all of these plates show in the photos: French: Sevres, Limoges, & Haviland, English: Coalport, Minton, & Ridgeway, Ironstone, Mason’s ware; also Chinese Rose Medallion plates, & Japanese Imari plates, & Dutch Delt plates, too. Very Interesting Document: HEH Coll. MS 38/6 uncat (Huntington Mansion Inventory Book)

The top cabinet plate looks similar to Mason’s Ironstone or Georgian Davenport Ironstone (2 pheasants in a tree). These plates could also be Coalport presentation plates. But the one at the bottom with celadon green color. Which by the way, Mrs. Arabella Huntington at the San Marino Ranch had several patterns of Mason’s Ironstone in green & blue, but I don’t know which pattern. Early Mason’s ware had this gorgeous light celadon green color. On the bottom shelf , with this lime green band, & Naples cream & gold medallion; with gold filigree plates could be Coalport cabinet or presentation plates. Ridgeway porcelain often made plates with this unusual Naples yellow beige rim & then gold painted on top of the Naples yellow beige color. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

There is something so regal about this Huntington Hotel; so many fun memories and history attached to it. If you visit the Huntington-Langham Hotel in Pasadena, remember to go to the bottom level to the Terrace Café. They have many historic black & white photographs of the Hotel Huntington on display from the 1920’s.

This handsome porcelain plate (above) is 19th Century Chinese Export Rose Medallion . It depicts a celebration or a tea ceremony with a green & a lovely flowered wreath around the edge. In 1914-1920’s, the Huntington Hotel had a Japanese tea room to serve hotel guests, maybe they used these plates.. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

The Huntington-Langham serves a lovely tea, just like the Ritz Huntington did before. A hotel guest might partake in tea (maybe Darjeeling, Earl Grey, or Orange Pekoe) & maybe champagne, too. This hotel is known for their elegant “Afternoon Tea”! At Christmas time, they often serve a wonderful Cinnamon-Orange Christmas Blend of tea.

The bottom two plates are Chinese Rose Medallion plates with Roses, birds & a landscape, illustrations depicting ceremonies & stories .The top shelf plates seem to be Georgian Davenport Ironstone with a pheasant in the center of the plates. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

Seeing these gorgeous Cabinet Plates inspired my imagination of what the hotel looked like at the beginning in the early 1900’s. Maybe they used these decorative plates to serve afternoon tea, luncheons, & dinners on some of these vintage plates.

19th Century Chinese Rose Medallion porcelain plates. These plates might have been used in the Japanese tea room at the Hotel Huntington . Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

In the early 1900’s, this hotel property was called “The Hotel Wentworth”, it was owned by Colonel Wentworth who had gone bankrupted. Mr. H. E. Huntington bought the Hotel Wentworth in 1911 with his Huntington Land & Improvement Co. H. E. Huntington renamed it “Hotel Huntington”, renovated the entire hotel & made it into one of the finest luxury hotel in America. They opened their doors in 1914 with great celebrations: a formal ball, afternoon tea reception and open house.

A fine portrait of Mr. Henry E. Huntington with hat & cane in his hands. This oil painting hangs above a glass topped side table in the hotel Lobby. Mr. Huntington might be sitting in his famous gardens on the Ranch or at the Hotel Huntington. Gorgeous lily flower arrangement displayed in the Huntington-Langham Lobby also. (2022). Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

Today, the Huntington- Langham Hotel’s elegant tea is served on English Royal Albert “Old Country Roses” fine bone china plates. The maker of the plates: is Wedgewood & the Royal Albert have been making fine bone china since 1904. Wedgewood was another fine bone china company, Mrs. Arabella Huntington collected.

The Huntington Langham Hotel serves a most delicious & elegant tea service. They serve tea sandwiches, lovely cream scones, & fancy dessert dainties. The little lovely tea sandwiches (are usually chicken salad, egg salad, cream cheese and chive, & salmon). They have petit scones, served with raspberry jam & Devonshire cream. Ending this lovely tea ritual with sweet dainties like petit fruit tarts & sublime French macaroons. It’s been a long time since we went out to lunch or tea (since Covid-19 virus). So we thought it would be fun, we got all dressed up in our purses & pearls. But sadly, they were not opened for formal tea until June 2022, so we will just have to wait.

This plate (above) looks similar to a 1800’s Ridgeway Coalport plate from England. But the Ridgeway/Coalport usually had 3 sections not 4 sections like the one above. Usually these plates were hand painted 19th Century Cabinet plates. Also, with roses & pheasants, & forget me nots. It also could be made by French Sevres. Mrs. Huntington owned many pattern of Sevres porcelain plates. Mrs. Huntington also had a affection for pheasants. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

While we were walking around the Huntington Langham Hotel, I spotted some more antique plates. Collections of certain patterns of stunning fine bone porcelain plates in these gorgeous Georgian wooden elegant cabinets. I especially loved the creamy moiré/damask wallpaper behind the plates to show them off even more.

A beautiful rose still life painting, located outside the Huntington – Langham Ballroom in Pasadena, CA. Mrs. Arabella Huntington’s favorite -pink & white heirloom roses.

England Coalport Porcelain plates or French Sevres plates

Listed in the San Marino Ranch/ Huntington Mansion Inventory Book. We know that Mrs. Arabella Huntington owned a large set of Coalport plates with the colors: blue, white & gold; but I don’t know the pattern name. Could the plates (above) be one of Mrs. Huntington’s Coalport plates??

What might be Georgian Davenport Ironstone porcelain plates. More interesting pieces from this porcelain tea & luncheon set (above). There is tea cups, creamer & sugar pot, large platter, vegetable or soup tureen & maybe a gravy boat. There is also a possibility that some of these amazing fine bone china pieces were used in the Hotel Huntington cottages or maybe used when the Hotel was hosting royalty like Prince & Princess of Sweden or Princess Clara Huntington von Hatzfeldt in the 1920’s.

We know of 3 sets of fancy plates that Mrs. Huntington (at her San Francisco Mansion) she commissioned artisans to make her a large sets of porcelain/ fine bone china plate “service sets”. It is interesting, that she had all 3 of these sets of fine bone china made in San Francisco. This is when she entertained for many guests at a time at her Nob Hill mansion. We know of several of her large “entertainments” in that mansion. In the 1890’s, Collis & Arabella Huntington entertained 110 dinner guests for a 16-course dinner for the Southern Pacific Co. Annual Dinner usually in May.

The Huntington Langham Hotel hall way, filled with stunning chandeliers (some are Venetian) leading to their lovely Front lobby. Photo credit: Nancy Armitage

We know Mrs. Arabella Huntington ordered a large set in Minton plates service set (gold, white, & turquoise with a Greek or Roman motif on the rim). This very large set of Minton fancy plates was written up in the San Francisco Call Newspaper 1903.

A very gilded age portrait located at the Huntington Langham Hotel, Pasadena, CA. The sitter is unknown. Photo credit: Nancy Armitage

Mrs. Collis Huntington (Arabella) also had a huge set of Roman looking plates hand-painted (by the famous painter: Cabanel) for the Huntingtons. Their Roman plates had a light maroon/mauve band around the rim & with a figurative image in the center. The image was a standing robed Roman lady serving a plate of food to a seated Roman robed man. These Roman plates were especially made for her San Francisco mansion made by Alexandre Cabanel (the same artist that did her long length portrait in a red dress). Document: San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts. These plates could have been made between 1880’s & 1890’s.

Also in San Francisco, Mrs. Huntington had a beautiful set of gold French Sevres knives with porcelain handle of pheasant & roses. I feel Mrs. Huntington had to have a “full service” set of Sevres plates to go with these fancy gold knives. They were also dark blue, gold, & white. These gorgeous blue, gold & white pheasant plates (above) would have matched those Serves gold knives perfectly. There is also a possibility that the pheasant plates above were made by Sevres company also. Document: San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA

This looks similar to 19th Century Regency period porcelain. It is in the Imari Indian tree style in a Japanese pattern. Many these plates were used at the Hotel Huntington Japanese tea room in the 1914-1920’s. I like the Autumn vibe of colors with blue, pink, peach, & biege iron red enamel. & tiny hit of celadon green.. With highly stylized peonies flowers with leaves & other flowers., circa 1810 during the Regency period of George III. They could have been made by Coalport, Minton , Spode of Staffordshire , but made in England. Most are unmarked on the back of plates.. Photo Image: Nancy Armitage

Cabinet Plates or Presentation Plates:

These antique plates were called “Cabinet Plates” or “Presentation Plates”. Often, they have a singular flower or bouquet of flowers & those are called “Botanical Cabinet Plates”. Those plates were very popular in the Gilded Age. There must be at least 8 different sets or patterns of fine bone china plates, bowls, teapot, sugar & creamers, compote dishes, etc. at the Huntington-Langham in Pasadena, CA.

Minton “Indian Tree of Life” with bamboo bands around the rim, comes the closest to these platter (above.). It also looks similar to Ashby “Indian Tree”, Hotelware. It is a possibility that these beautiful plates might have been especially for the Hotel Huntington in Pasadena, CA. Wedgewood & Royal Doulton made another “Indian Tree” pattern with bamboo bands around the edges & inside of the plates & platters, too. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

Cabinet Plates defined could be luncheon or dinner “service set” placed in a beautiful cabinet. Sometimes, this elegant plates were decorated with 22 karat gold on ivory background. Some plates from Coalport, Minton Stoke-on-Trent, England, or Sevres from France.

A grand Georgian cabinet, filled with “Cabinet plates”, located at the Hotel Huntington Langham, Pasadena, CA. The beautiful blue & gold plates on a white background could possible be Coalport, a favorite of Mrs. Arabella Huntington. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

Displaying Cabinet Plates

I took so many photos of the beautiful antique cabinet plates. So many different kinds of plates. I wish I could have seen the back of the plates to see who made them. Some looked like Coalport, Chinese Rose Medallion, Regency Davenport, Mason’s ware, Blue pheasant plates…. Does it remind you of any of the plate collections of Mrs. Arabella Huntington?? I thought the same thing. By the way, Mrs. Huntington owned so many these patterns of porcelain plates.

My guess is that these stunning plates might be vintage Coalport plates. These plates have dark blue & delicate gold filigree & autumn leaves on a white background. Also, a scalloped edge & gold grape leaves decorating the edge of the plate. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

It was between 1911-1913, when Mr. H. E. Huntington had renovated the whole Hotel Huntington in Pasadena, CA. By 1914, he & his team opened the hotel up to the public. Doesn’t it make sense that Mr. Huntington’s brand new wife, Arabella would have helped him with décor of this new hotel? Or these plates could have decorated the hotel cottages for the wealthy and the royalty.

A stunning display of spring flowers: pink tulips, purple & lavender orchids, & hot pink lilies. Located under this gorgeous Venetian chandelier in the front lobby at the Huntington Langham. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

Documents;

HEH Coll. MS 38/6 uncat (H. E. Huntington Mansion Inventory Book) Huntington Library, San Marino, CA

Menu of Southern Pacific Co. annual banquet at Palace Hotel or later at Collis and Arabella Huntington mansion located at 1020 California Street, Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA In the 1890’s, Collis & Arabella Huntington entertained 110 dinner guests for a 16-course dinner for the Southern Pacific Co. Annual Dinner usually in May.

San Francisco Call Newspaper 1903. (Mrs. Huntington buys Minton Full Service of plates; gold and white with Greek turquoise band)

Document: San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts. These plates could have been made between 1880’s & 1890’s. Plates:gold and white with mauve band around the rim

Gold and white and Blue, Sevres enamal “gold knives” located at the San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts owned by Mrs. Huntington. There had to be a large service set of Sevres plates to match these handsome Sevres, gold knives.

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