Jackie Kennedy and Sister Parish Placed This Tea Table in the White House

The former First Lady kept the Victorian antique, with an elegant chinoiserie design, for the rest of her life.
black lacquer tea table from the Kennedy White House
When Jacqueline Kennedy famously collaborated with interior designer Sister Parish to update the White House, they moved this black lacquer tea table into the Yellow Oval Room. In the photo above, the table is next to President Kennedy’s rocking chair.

“It’s my own little piece of Camelot,” says St. Louis interior designer Jimmy Jamieson. He’s referring to an English Victorian tea table that belonged to former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and was sold at Sotheby’s in New York after her death.

That April 1996 auction brought in $34.5 million, seven times what Sotheby’s estimated. Of the hundreds of items on the block, only a few had been in the White House when the Kennedys lived there. Cannily, Jamieson, who attended the sale, bought one of them, the tea table that the First Lady and the legendary designer Sister Parish chose for the Executive Residence, the White House family quarters.

black lacquer tea table with a removable tray
The two-part piece consists of a removable tray on a stand with bracket-form legs.

Over the years, many photos of the Yellow Oval Room, the residence’s cheerful living room, showed the table next to one of President Kennedy’s rocking chairs. Later, the 19-inch-high table followed his widow to her New York apartment, where it remained until her death, in 1994.

After buying it at the Sotheby’s auction, Jamieson took the table back to his St. Louis office. And for 26 years, he’s used it. “I’m sitting in front of it now,” he says when reached by phone. Does he worry about damaging it? “I own it. It doesn’t own me,” he answers.

red living room with Kehinde Wiley painting and tea table from Kennedy White House
St. Louis–based interior design Jimmy Jamieson purchased the table at auction in 1996. Here, he styled it beneath a Kehinde Wiley painting in the living room of a client’s Beaux Arts townhouse.

Now, Jamieson has decided that it’s time to sell — he’s redecorating his office — and has consigned the table to Kyrle Boldt III, of Century Design Ltd., also in St. Louis.

Century Design specializes in mid-century modern furniture, but Jamieson figured that its presence on 1stDibs could help attract the right buyer for what Boldt calls “quite possibly the most important tea table in American history.”

black lacquer and papier-mâché tray features Asian figures and botanicals
The black lacquer and papier-mâché tray features Asian-inspired figures and botanicals.

Its provenance aside, the piece is a stunning example of 19th-century chinoiserie. A black lacquer and papier-mâché tray rests on a japanned and gilded stand with bracket-form legs. Jamieson set the price at $775,000 after consulting several experts. Since the sale is not an auction, he could be leaving money on the table. But what nicer table to leave it on?

Loading more stories …

No more stories to load! Check out Introspective Magazine

No more stories to load! Check out Introspective Magazine