Charles Van Heusen and the Presidential Seal

Charles Van Heusen.pngIn 1869, Charles Van Heusen was a dealer in fine china, glass, earthen ware, kerosene goods, gas fixtures and more. His business was in Marble Hall, at 468 and 470 Broadway.

Marble Hall has not survived, but the Van Heusen family gave us two fine Albany buildings that still stand. The home built for son Charles in 1900  at 411 State Street is now home to the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

It is said that the younger Charles Van Heusen was friends with Theodore Roosevelt, that he supplied his china to the White House, and that he somehow had a hand in the final version of the Great Seal of the United States. How so? Well, the Philadelphia Museum of Art describes it thusly:

“Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt (1861-1948) ordered a new state service for 120 to harmonize with the renovation and redecoration of the White House by McKim, Mead and White in 1902. She chose a Wedgwood pattern, then called “Ulanda,” from among several English and Continental porcelain samples submitted by the Van Heusen Charles Company of Albany, New York.1 Wedgwood customized the decoration by adding the Great Seal of the United States in a circular reserve on the border design of simple, radiating gold lines.” Susan Gray Detweiler, from American Presidential China: The Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2008), p. 73.

I guess once it was on a plate, there was no turning back.

Charles’s brother, Theodore, also was involved in the company and had a bit of loveliness built at 6 Madison Place, just below the cathedral; it was built in 1848 by David Orr.

4 thoughts on “Charles Van Heusen and the Presidential Seal

  1. Charles was only 3 years old in 1869… Charles Manning Van Heusen was friends with Roosevelt and helped standardize the presidential seal. His father was not named Charles. His father was Theodore Van Wyck Van Heusen, born 11 Nov 1818, died 15 Jun 1893.
    The company was named Van Heusen, Charles & Co. because of Theodore’s business partner Daniel D. T. Charles.

  2. Thanks. I had a lot of confusion on this one, and apparently it was worse than I thought. Not sure how I didn’t find the reference to Theodore in Howell’s volume, where it’s clear as day now – and I had even found his house – but I’ll get it corrected.

    1. I have dishes that say Van Heusen Charles Albany NY. I found in my mother’s house. Does anyone know who I call or get them looked to tell me when they were made and for whom? I will try to attach a picture if I can.

      1. I’m afraid I don’t have a way to post pictures on this, and you’d be better of with another forum anyway. If you can contact Dennis Holzman he may be able to help you:
        Holzman Antiques

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