This Wileman teacup quartet consisting of a teacup, saucer, side plate and large cake plate, is nothing less than sensational. It is decorated in the "Japan" pattern, which is perhaps one of the most bold and daring patterns Wileman ever brought out. The flowing shape of all the plates, combined with the very delicate shape of the cup and its perky upwards pointing handle, create a unity that is about the most stunning designs that have come from the Wileman potteries.


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 Snowdrop shape is perhaps the most sought after for its elegance and delicacy.


The Japan pattern on the Snowdrop cup was registered in 1898. Wileman was known for their unique approach to design and many of the cups they made surprise us in modern times with their boldness, and this set is a great example of that. Initially the raw or biscuit items were printed in flow blue, an ancient Chinese technique that creates a wonderful cobalt blue slightly runny pattern; then the very precise and elaborate red Imari pattern was applied by transfer. This pattern is wonderfully gracious yet bold, with thick lines as well as fine detail. Then the items were glazed, and lastly the gilding was applied on top of the glaze - but this is perhaps the most striking feature as in a time when most designs were incredibly subtle and stylised, the gilding here was blotted on in an almost slap-dash manner, while at the same time a beautiful fish skin detail was applied to the cobalt blue areas. The result of all this is that the design is both subtle and bold, traditional and modern - you can't quite make up your mind!


CONDITION REPORT This set is in very excellent antique condition, which is very rare for sets this age. The china is still very white and the pattern very bright. There are no chips, cracks, restorations or significant crazing - just a tiny bit on the cup, hardly visible with the naked eye, which causes a few very small discolourations near the bottom. All three plates ring true when tapped and have no crazing. The gilding is in untouched condition in most places, only a bit rubbed in the centre of the side plate and on the cup handle.


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 costly waste. This cup trio is relatively free from these imperfections but you might see some under the glazing.


All items carry the famous large Wileman mark in green with the Snowdrop shape registration number 272764. Hand painted in gold on each item is the registration number 6988.


DIMENSIONS (diameter at the widest point): cup 8.8cm (3.5"), saucer 14.3cm (5 5/8"), side plate 18.4cm (7 1/4"), cake plate 24cm (9.5").


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!


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.

Teacup quartet, Japan pattern on Snowdrop shape, Wileman 1898

  • 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! 🙏

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

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