This is a very desired design that was unnamed in the pattern books (although registered under the number 7612, as painted in gold on the bottom of items), but I call it "buttercup imari". The pattern consists of beautifully printed buttercup flowers, while the colours follow the traditional Imari style with red and cobalt blue. The set is spectacularly shaped in the Snowdrop shape, and with the extra large cake plate it becomes a feast of shapes and colours.


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 flowing shape of each item, 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. Snowdrop cups were very difficult to fire and many have not survived into our times, making them more rare than other shapes.


This buttercup imari pattern on Snowdrop items was registered in 1902. It is a gentle and playful pattern that was applied from an etching via inked paper onto the raw or biscuit china and then glazed over. The cobalt blue areas were then filled in by hand in enamel. Wileman was known for their unique approach to design and many of the cups they made surprise us in modern times with their boldness; this set impresses with its combination of gentle flowers and bold contrasts.


The set is clearly inspired by the Art Nouveau period with its flowing shapes and graceful pattern. But what is interesting about it is that, in true Wileman style, the designer has chosen one of the humblest flowers in English nature; buttercups can be found in every English field during the summer months and although this design looks so sophisticated, it is a delight to look closer and realise it's been made with such a ordinary little flower.


CONDITION REPORT This set is in excellent antique condition with no damage or signs of wear other than some stacking wear on the cake plate and some rubbing of the gilt edges of the items. The pattern is still bright and the cobalt blue areas, which typically tends to flake, is in great condition. The porcelain is still white and there is no crazing anywhere on this set.


When washing this set it is important not to soak it, as this could make the cobalt blue enamel flake.


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 set is relatively free from these imperfections but you will see some under the glazing.


All items carry the famous large Wileman mark in green with the registration number 7612 hand painted in gold.


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 8.8cm (3.5"), saucer 14.3cm (5 5/8"), side plate 18.4cm (7 1/4"), cake plate 24cm (9 1/4").

Wileman teacup quartet, Buttercup Imari, 1902

SKU: A-WL163
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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.

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Due to COVID quarantine we may have a delay in shipping some items, but please feel free to shop and order! Most small items can be shipped without delay, but larger items may be shipped after 5 October. Thank you for your patience!

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