Thursday, September 20, 2007

Giving Gifts

This week I have a special two-year-old to shop for. I haven’t done that for some time as my children are in their 20s and teens, and my youngest nephew is fast approaching his upper elementary years. I don’t even know what is trendy right now for toddlers. I believe we are going to go towards books and Dora the Explorer, however. I love the giving, I adore the shopping, but actually getting the right thing….that’s the part that drives me insane.

You can go back pretty far in history and find that government leaders have been exchanging gifts as far back as ancient times. This week’s wordless image was a gift of state. It is customary when heads of state visit they exchange some sort of gift. These visits are arranged by the Department of State and there is a method of protocol that is strictly adhered to during the entire visit.

The office of the Chief of Protocol arranges and coordinates all state visits as well as visits our president makes abroad. The cermonial division of the Office of Protocol is responsible for the appropriate selection of gifts to be given by the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, and their respective spouses to foreign dignitaries. Information regarding the handling of gifts and their legal status can be found here.

An article from the New York Times relates Abraham Lincoln, who did not have to disclose any gifts he received, was inaugurated in a suit that was provided to him as a gift. Among the many other things he received was a John Hancock autograph and several potions and laxitives. Yes, that’s right….laxitives. He turned down, however, a herd of elephants from the king of Siam.

Tokens and Treasures connects to some explanations regarding some very interesting gifts presented to U.S. Presidents all the way back to Hoover.

The particular piece of jewelry I shared for the wordless image this week is an auquamarine and diamond brooch given by His Excellency Arthur da Costa e Silva, President-elect of Brazil at the end of January, 1967 during a state visit to Washington D.C. You can see the toasts given at the official state dinner for President Johnson and President-elect Silva here.

The brooch can be seen on exhibit along with many of the state gift items presented to the President of the United States during the Johnson Administration. The two-inch long auquamarine is tear-dropped in shape and is set in platinum. It can also be worn as a pendant. Nine diamonds are found on each side leading up to five brilliant cut diamonds topped with four baguettes set at angles. Mrs. Johnson wore the piece of jewelry during the remainder of her husband’s term in office.

*the first image with this post is from the official state dinner for the Republic of India and is courtesy of the White House
*the pendant image is courtesy of the Archival Research Catalog of the National Archives and Records Administration.

This post also appears at American Presidents Blog


Unknown said...

That pendant is SOOO beautiful. I've always thought famous and beautiful and large jewels like that are so neat because of the history around them. Someday it would be fun to write a story about a jewel like that and the women who wore it.

Omar Cruz said...
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