This is a demitasse teacup and saucer made by Wileman in 1887. The shape of the items is called "Alexandra" and the it is printed with a beautiful Japan Honeysuckle pattern in red, black and yellow. The pattern is relatively rare, and to find it in these colours is even rarer.


Wileman (later renamed Shelley and sometimes called Foley) was one of the most respected manufacturers of fine bone china tea sets in the late 19th and early 20th Century, and many of their products are now collector's items. They made many different shapes of cups and the Alexandra shape is without doubt one of the most sought after and eccentric shapes Wileman ever produced. It is square (called "quatrefoil", intensely fluted, and perhaps looking a little bizarre, but it drinks surprisingly well.


"Demitasse" is French for "half a cup", and these little cups were originally part of a "cabaret set" consisting of four of these cups and saucers, a teapot, and a milk and sugar set on a large porcelain tray.


The pattern of this cup is rare. It is a beautiful transfer of elegantly draped honeysuckle and daisies. The pattern was very finely etched onto a metal plate and then transferred onto the glazing by paper. The colours are a beautifully rich red, black and yellow, with some gilt. The Honeysuckle design is clearly influenced by the Aesthetic Movement, which was a big influence on Wileman's designs in the 1880s. The Aesthetic Movement was a reaction to the opulent Victorian designs of the mid-1800s and was inspired by the Japanese art that found its way to Europe once trading relationships with Japan had been restored in the 1860s. In Japanese art, beauty was created for its own sake and not to signify the wealth and status of any person; it was also a time when nature became central to design rather than a passive object. You can see this in this design; it is all about the honeysuckle's beauty and grace - there are no fashionable ornaments. This version of the Honeysuckle pattern in red, black and yellow is called "Japan Honeysuckle" because of its colour reference to the Imari style.


CONDITION REPORT This set is in excellent antique condition with no chips, cracks or repairs. There is some very light crazing on the cup and it only rings half-true; the saucer is uncrazed and rings nicely when tapped. The porcelain is still bright white and the colours unscratched. There is light rubbing to the gilt. Particularly Alexandra cups tend to craze quite heavily so this is one is in relatively good condition.


Kilns were fired on coal in the late 1800s, and this meant that china from that period can have some firing specks from flying particles. One reason Wileman was able to bring high quality tableware on the market for modest prices is that they decided to pass items with firing specks rather than discarding them and creating waste (and extra cost). You will see a few of these imperfections, but they are very minor.


All items carry the famous large Wileman mark. There is a registration number 3766 painted in gold on each item.


Please note that all items in my shop are of vintage or antique condition. They have often been used for many years and can have normal signs of wear. I will reflect any damage, repairs or heavy wear in the item description but some minor scratches, nicks and stains 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 see with the eye; a hairline runs over the surface glazing but not the body of the item and a crack runs through the body of the item, usually weakening its structure. Etcetera - I try to be as accurate as I can and please feel free to ask questions or request more detailed pictures!


DIMENSIONS (diameter at the widest point): cup 8.2cm (3 1/4"), saucer 12.2cm (4 3/4").


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 teacup, Japan Honeysuckle pattern, Wileman 1887

  • 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.

    You are subject to the EU Consumers Rights Act, which protects your rights buying over the internet.


    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! 

Covid-19 - we are open for business! 

We can ship normally to most destinations, but some are currently closed.

For the time being we have had to raise shipping prices as shippers are now charging more.

As we are living under lock down and can't always reach our stock, lead times will be a little longer than usual.

For now, please bear with us as we do our best to get your parcels to you as quickly as we can! 

If needed we are happy to hold your parcel for you until the end of the pandemic.

Please feel free to contact us to discuss and thank you for your business - it is a vital support for our business! 🙏

We will be away for our annual holiday from 6 to 20 September, but please feel free to shop and order items! We will answer your messages although probably with some delay. We will be able to ship all orders made before the close of 3 September immediately, orders after that time will be shipped when shipments resume after 21 September. 

© 2020 by Gentle Rattle of China - copyright on all images and text

  • Instagram Social Icon
  • YouTube Social  Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Pinterest Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon