This is a very charming little demitasse cup and saucer made by an unknown pottery in Staffordshire in the 1870s. "Demitasse" is French for "half a cup"; this set is very small and the cup would hold just about one double espresso.


This set is made in the "Aesthetic Period" style, and to be more precise, the "Japonism" style, which coincided. After many years of Victorian splendour in design, there was a new longing for simplicity in design, which resulted in the "Aesthetic" fashion, which did away with many unnecessary frills and often portrayed nature in a very simple, direct way.


"Japonism" entailed a renewed interest in Japanese art. Japanese designs had of course come to Europe for centuries on the imported china ware, often supplied via the Dutch, Chinese or Portuguese. For centuries, Britain could not trade directly with Japan, but in the 1850s trade relations were restored and this created a new interest in Japanese art. While previously the knowledge of Japanese design had been limited to the Imari teawares, now Japanese prints made their way particularly to Paris, where they influenced the artists of the time such as Van Gogh, Degas and Monet.


This set is a little work of art and it combines a typical British love of birds with Japanese influences. The decoration consists of a ground with a continuous pattern of exotic flowers and panels with prunus flowers and birds; a swimming duck on the cup and a thrush just taking off from a branch on the saucer. The pattern was applied by transfer print in blue on the white ground.


The set is potted in light creamware, rather than porcelain; the cup has a bucket shape with an angular handle, which became popular in the 1970s, doing away with any unnecessary frills.


Both cup and saucer are unmarked.


CONDITION REPORT The set is in good antique condition but it has some minor flaws due to its age. There is crazing, as can be expected from an antique piece of creamware, and there is a tiny pinprick size chip off the rim above the handle, as visible in the picture of the handle. Neither stand out and the cup is good for use.


Antique British porcelain and creamware is never perfect. Kilns were fired on coal in the 1800s, and this meant that china from that period can have some firing specks from flying particles. British makers were also known for their experimentation, and sometimes this resulted in technically imperfect results. Due to the shrinkage in the kiln, items can have small firing lines or develop crazing over time, which should not be seen as damage but as an imperfection of the maker's recipes, probably unknown at the time of making. Items have often been used for many years and can have normal signs of wear, and gilt can have signs of slight disintegration even if never handled. I will reflect any damage, repairs, obvious stress marks, crazing or heavy wear in the item description but some minor scratches, nicks, stains and gilt disintegration can be normal for vintage items and need to be taken into account.


There is widespread confusion on the internet about the difference between chips and nicks, or hairlines and cracks. I will reflect any damage as truthfully as I can, i.e. a nick is a tiny bit of damage smaller than 1mm and a chip is something you can easily see with the eye; a glazing line is a break in the glazing only; hairline is extremely tight and/or superficial and not picked up by the finger; and a crack is obvious both to the eye and the finger. Etcetera - I try to be as accurate as I can and please feel free to ask questions or request more detailed pictures!


DIMENSIONS (diameters) cup 6.4cm (2.5"), saucer 10.6cm (4.25").


SHIPPING I ship worldwide from the UK, mostly by Royal Mail 2nd Class for the UK and International Tracked and Signed for the rest of the world. I am happy to combine shipping charges on multiple items - please contact me to discuss. In principle I do not make a profit on shipping although for simplicity's sake I charge flat shipping fees. If the fee charged greatly exceeds the actual cost I will gladly refund you the difference - at the same time if it is slightly lower I will gladly make up the difference. In some countries shipping will end up significantly more than the expected fees and I will contact you to discuss our options. PLEASE CONTACT ME FOR ANY QUESTIONS REGARDING SHIPPING COSTS AND OPTIONS.

Demitasse cup, Aesthetic Period birds blue and white, 1870s

  • Your item will be shipped after receipt of funds, unless agreed otherwise in writing. 


    We will ship your items within a maximum of 2 working days after payment (usually quicker). We cannot be held responsible for delivery times once the item has been shipped as this is at the shipper's discretion and, in case of international delivery, can be subject to customs delays, weather, holidays and/or political instability.


    If your delivery failed to appear or was damaged in transit, please let us know as soon as possible and, in case of damage, provide us with pictures of the damaged item and/or packaging. Cut off dates for this are 14 days after shipping, or 2 days after a damaged delivery. We will need to comply with shippers' regulations in order to follow up the issue, but it is vital that you let us know what is wrong as soon as possible. We will do anything we can to follow up faulty deliveries but cannot be held responsible if we have not been notified within the required time period. 


    We always aim to have happy customers so if you have an issue with or questions about your item, please contact us and we will do anything we can to resolve the issue with you! 

  • Cancellations can only be accepted before the item has been shipped. Once an item has been shipped, the transaction cannot be cancelled anymore.

    Returns need to be requested within 2 days of receipt of the item and completed within 14 days from the date they have been agreed in writing.

    If you want to return an item because you changed your mind, you will be responsible for the return shipping. For international deliveries, this will need to be a fully tracked shipping mode. The item is expected to be received back in the same state it was sent - any damage due to insufficient packaging will be your responsibility. We will only pay for return shipping if we have mutually agreed that the item did not satisfy your expectations. A refund will be made immediately after receipt of the item.

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    We always aim to have happy customers so if you have an issue with or questions about your item, please contact us and we will do anything we can to resolve the issue with you! 

© 2020 by Gentle Rattle of China, London UK  

copyright on all images and text

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