Treasured Gifts to the Annenbergs

Janice Kleinschmidt Current PSL, History


Walter and Leonore Annenberg’s legendary hospitality inspired countless gifts, most of which they displayed in their Rancho Mirage home.

See related story: Walter and Lenore Annenberg Invited Presidents and Diplomats to Work Toward World Peace

The exhibition book for Treasures at Sunnylands: Selections From the Gift Collection of Walter & Leonore Annenberg notes the following items given to them by political figures and royalty:

From President Richard Nixon: golf clubs inscribed “President Nixon”

From President Gerald Ford and first lady Betty Ford: a watercolor painting of a Beaucarnea recurvata plant at Sunnylands based on a photograph they took while guests

From President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan: decorative door hinges from the 1888 State, War, and Navy building mounted onto bookends

From President George H.W. Bush: a Big Mouth Billy Bass wall plaque, motion activated to play Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and Al Green’s “Take Me to the River” (Bush often fished at Sunnylands)

From first lady Barbara Bush: a suite of glazed ceramic boxes in the shapes of Bush residences in Kennebunkport, Maine, the vice presidential residence in D.C., and the White House

From President Bill Clinton: a glass vase engraved with a depiction of the White House, the presidential seal, and his signature

From first lady Hillary Clinton: a Ruth Rosenthal beaded safety-pin necklace

From Secretary of State George Shultz and Charlotte Shultz: a Swarovski crystal cockatoo on a wood base

From Senator Dianne Feinstein: a painted wood and metal box from the Dilek Collection, Istanbul, Turkey, depicting a hunting party on horseback

From U.S. Department of State staff: a sterling silver presentation box from Cartier, France, engraved inside “Presented to our Chief of Protocol Ambassador Leonore Annenberg from your staff, December 1981”

From Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger: a plaster recasting of the death mask of Dante Alighieri engraved “For Walter Annenberg: This recast of a piece I made 62 years ago has no artistic or intrinsic value other than as a manifestation of a valued friendship. October 1985. Warren E. Burger”

From the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth: a sterling silver cigarette box bearing her royal cipher and inscribed “For Walter and Lee Annenberg with best wishes, from Elizabeth R.”

From the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II: a sterling silver and enamel cigarette box bearing her royal cipher

From Charles, Prince of Wales: a sterling silver presentation box bearing his heraldic badge

From Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall: a tasseled silver pencil bearing the royal heraldic badge and a set of six dessert plates, each bearing an image from original watercolor paintings of botanical specimens in the gardens of their English estate

From Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon: a porcelain trinket box with trellis detail bearing her royal cipher, a silver-gilt and rosewood cigarette box with her royal cipher, and a bronze sculpture reproduction of a second-century B.C. head representing Aphrodite

From guests at the 1974 farewell party for the Annenbergs at the ambassadorial residence in London: a pair of sterling silver George III goblets (1789) engraved with a coat of arms

From U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: a silver ashtray engraved with her signature

From Jordan’s King Hussein: a silver cigarette case

From Iran’s Ambassador to the United States Ardeshir Zahedi (also one-time ambassador to the United Kingdom and minister of foreign affairs): a porcelain box bearing a photo of Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his family and an inscribed sterling silver presentation box

From British Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Head of the Diplomatic Service Sir Denis Greenhill and Cabinet Secretary Burke St. John Trend: a red-stained ram-leather, pine, and metal briefcase — replicating a ministerial box with the royal cipher of Queen Elizabeth II and inscribed “Hon. Walter Annenberg”