YORK, S.C. - President Trump asked John and Jay Leake, a father and son furniture making duo from a small South Carolina town, to handcraft a small brooch box for the Queen of England. The gift was in honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
"They told us it was going to house a special brooch that was going to be made by Tiffany & Co. and that’s all they told us," John Leake told WCNC News. "They did tell us it was going to the Queen as a gift but we didn’t know any details. That’s about all we knew. It's kind of a need to know basis."
The White House contacted the pair by phone and gave just two weeks for the box to be completed.
"About two weeks ago," John told WCNC. "It was not long ago. It was a spur of the moment thing. So we made every effort to make sure it was completed and in their hands in time."
Wood for the box was provided by the White House and sourced from White House grounds. The Leakes suspect the wood was basswood, but couldn't confirm.
The box featured an old drawing of the White House provided by Trump staff. The inside of the box, 4 by 5 inches and nearly 2 inches deep, was lined with black velvet.
“My son Jay and I are honored to be selected by the White House to produce the box containing the gift for Queen Elizabeth on this historical occasion,” said John Leake. “It was a thrill working with wood sourced from the White House grounds.”
The father and son team, whose family spans four generations, has produced a number of items for the White House and the U.S. State Department. The duo is nationally known for high-level period furniture reproductions. The Leakes build 15-18 major pieces per year in their York, South Carolina shop, each with craftsmanship featuring hand carving, dovetailing, and pinned mortise and tenon joinery.
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.