This is a very wonderful "true trio" with the famous "Boy at the Door" pattern, made by Miles Mason around 1805. A true trio is how cups and saucers were sold in the late 18th and early 19th Century: as you would never drink tea and coffee at the same time, why invest in an extra saucer? So the teacup and coffee cup share the same saucer.


Miles Mason was one of the early ones of the second wave of British porcelain makers, alongside Spode and others. Mason was a prominent porcelain retailer in London at the time that most porcelain came from China, imported by the East India Company. When those imports stopped in 1791 (due to the racketeering at the porcelain auctions by Mason and his fellow dealers), he seized the opportunity and started to experiment in making his own porcelain. By the early 1800s, Mason had developed both very strong ironstone, and an early form of bone china. Mason copied the Chinese designs he used to import, and became famous for large Chinoiserie dinner and dessert wares made of "Patent Ironstone". 


This set would have been part of a large tea service. It is made of very fine early porcelain that is slightly greyish, and it is decorated with a very charming Chinoiserie pattern called "Boy at the Door". A woman is seated at a table with one boy offering her flowers, a little boy watching nearby, and another boy standing in the doorway of a pagoda behind her. The garden scene is idyllic and across the river you can see some large buildings that look quite Western - it could be one of the trading posts, which were often depicted on Chinese Export porcelain as well as the early English Chinoiserie patterns. This pattern has been done in several variations by many factories; the most famous one is the one New Hall did, which is called "Boy in the Window" with the boy not standing at a doorway but peeking out of an open window. In each version (Worcester, Grainger, Herculaneum and several others) the scene is different and the boys and their mother are engaged in different pursuits, from writing to playing with a bird. 


These Chinoiserie patterns were often made because some of the more conservative British public didn't warm immediately to the newfangled English patterns, but wanted to see the same decorations they had been used to until the mid 1790s, when the porcelain import from China came to an end. So British porcelain artists scrambled to copy the old Chinese patterns and create new ones. This particular pattern probably was never one original Chinese pattern; it is more likely that several elements of popular Chinese patterns were thrown together and each factory made their own version, which then acquired the names afterwards.


There is much more to see: the rims of the saucer are wonderfully painted in brown in the Chinese "famille rose" pattern with Rococo scroll reserves with the river landscape. There is another wonderful green green and pink detail on the cups. All three items are finished with a brown rim; there is no gilt. What is interesting about the painting style is that the saucer and teacup have been painted very precisely in a clear attempt to imitate the Chinese free-flowing style, but as usual looking a little more studied as English painters didn't have the same skill to paint freely. However, the coffee cup was either painted by an apprentice with less skill, or perhaps it simply wasn't finished as most faces have no mouth, eyes or nose, and the tree has no definition. These cups would belong to huge tea services that were often ordered on a deadline, so it could have been rushed through by leaving it to an apprentice, or leaving it unfinished altogether.


Another nice detail is that while you can tell that the artists really tried to paint Chinese figures, they have very English faces. In those days, ordinary English people would have never seen an oriental face in their lives, so they would have no idea how to paint one.


The set is unmarked as was common at the time.


CONDITION REPORT The set is in excellent antique condition without any damage, repairs or crazing, and only minimal wear as visible in the pictures. There is a rather charming production fault near the rim of the coffee cup, as visible in the last picture.


Antique British porcelain 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) teacup 8cm (3.2"); coffee can 7cm (2.75"); saucer 13.6cm (5.4").


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.

Miles Mason true trio, Boy at the Door pattern, ca 1805

  • 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.

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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! 

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! 🙏

© 2020 by Gentle Rattle of China, London UK  

copyright on all images and text

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