This is a beautiful coffeecup and saucer made by Samuel Alcock around 1840, which was the Rococo Revival era. The set is decorated with a bold Imari pattern.

 

Samuel Alcock was one of the many potters in Staffordshire such as Spode, Coalport, H&R Daniel and many others during the 1830s and 1840s. He was perhaps not the most well-known of potters but produced very high quality wares and original designs, often standing out for their bright choice of colours and beautiful shapes. The Alcock factory is not well documented so although they had a huge output, items are often mis-identified and we don't know much about the production process of artists, even though the wares have a very high quality that equals that of the more well known factories.

 

The Rococo style was originally a style of the 18th Century. After the Baroque style, which was highly symmetrical and well-designed as it aimed to express the perfection of God, the Rococo style was a reaction that expressed the unpredictability and flow of nature. "Rococo" is derived from the French word "rocaille", which stands for a mass of pebbles that are self-organised in a completely unpredictable mess, for instance on the beach or in the mountains. Rococo moved away from the stranglehold that religion had on the arts: it was capricious, asymmetrical, charming and worldly. As Europe got mired in various wars between Germany, France and Britain, the general style got much more austere again and people embraced neo-classicism. But in the 1830s and 1840s, the seemingly unlimited fortunes of the Industrial Revolution sparked a revival of Rococo, once again creating natural shapes that are not symmetrical and don't particularly make rational sense. 

 

This tea set can be identified as Rococo Revival because of its generous, open shape, the beautiful moulding around the rim of the cup, and particularly because of the cup handle, which is called "rustic bean": rustic because it imitates the way twigs grow in nature, and bean because of its shape. And did you know that moulded rims on teacups help your lips taste the tea better?

 

The items are unmarked except for the pattern number 6142, as was often the requirement of clients in those days; retailers were worried that people would go to the Potteries directly so therefore kept secret where their items were produced.

 

CONDITION REPORT The set is in good antique condition except a few minor flaws. There is crazing throughout that has caused various glazing lines on the saucer and the cups, however none of these go into the porcelain so they are of no consequence to the strength of the items. There are two short firing cracks on the rim of the teacup, one of which has been glazed over (see picture), the other has come through the glaze. Neither of these flaws will have bearing on the strength of the cup. There is very little wear.

 

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 (diameter): teacup 10.8cm (4.25"), coffee cup 9cm (3.5"), saucer 15.2cm (6")

Tea/coffee cup trio, Samuel Alcock ca 1840

SKU: A-ALC08
£125Price
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