This is a beautiful "Tete a Tete" tea service for two, made by Edwin J.D. Bodley between 1876 and 1881. The service consists of a teapot, two teacup trios, two breakfast-sized plates, a milk jug and a sugar bowl. 


The Bodley pottery was well known for their interesting cup shapes, and they closely followed the fashion of the time of "Japonism", 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 as Britain could not trade directly with Japan, which had no direct trade relations with most of the world. But in the 1850s trade relations were restored and this created a new interest in Japanese art. While previously the knowledge 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. Its shape has been used for many different patterns during the 1870s and 1880s: the cup walls are very straight but the cup has a slight foot, making it elegant in spite of its angularity. The handles of the teapot, milk jug and teacups are squarely shaped imitations of bamboo. The saucer and plates have a nicely textured moulded bands around the well, as do the belly of the cups, sugar pot and milk jug.


But the most striking aspect of the set is the collection of birds that have been transfer-printed in on-glaze turquoise blue. There are various pairs of birds: storks, ducks, king fishers and simple little sparrows. Some of the birds are very active and seem to be tweeting or shrieking at each other; sparrows are sitting peacefully on a branch, the ducks are looking after their young, the king fisher is (what else) fishing. The panels with birds are interspersed with beautiful details of flowers and bamboo sprigs. The painting of these images is perhaps not the most delicate in the history of British teacups, but it is wonderfully sincere in its portrayal of real-life British birds of the kind I get to see regularly on my walks along a nearby river in the London outskirt of Walthamstow - this set clearly was painted with nature-lovers in mind. Yet it was also clearly influenced by the Aesthetic Movement, which emerged in the 1870s and did away with meaningless ornaments, placing birds and flowers at the centre of decoration - and of course it is a wonderful mix of cultures to combine these English birds with Asian bamboo trees.


The underside of some of the items have diamond marks pointing to the years 1876 and 1881; it looks like the set may have been fired in 1876 and decorated in 1881.


CONDITION REPORT The set is in near-perfect antique condition with no damage, wear or repairs, and only some very slight micro-crazing on one cup and the finial of the teapot (too minor to catch in a picture).


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 Teapot stands 10.5cm (4 1/8") high incl. finial and measures 18.5cm (7 1/4") from spout to handle; teacup 6.5cm (2.5"), saucer 12cm (4 3/4"), side plate 15cm (5 7/8"), breakfast plate 20cm (7 7/8"); milk jug measures 10cm (4") wide and stands 6.5cm (2.5") high; sugar bowl is 8cm (3 1/8") diameter.


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.

"Tete a Tete" tea service with birds, EJD Bodley 1876-1881

  • 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! 

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