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On the cusp of a new year, this week I am showing you a truly rare treasure: a full tea service made by Derby in about 1785. This service is in the famous "artichoke" pattern in fashionable turquoise blue. This is an incredibly rare find and I was thrilled to come upon it.

Derby tea services from this era are rare, for two reasons. Firstly, porcelain was still prohibitively expensive in those days. Only the wealthiest people could afford a tea service made of porcelain, so factories made only small quantities. Production methods were also very elaborate and time consuming, so even if there would have been a bigger market, the factories would probably not have been able to produce much more than they did.

Secondly, many Derby tea services (particularly the teapots) have not survived. Although Derby was the most fashionable factory in terms of design (particularly after it had bought up the Chelsea factory in London), Worcester tea services for instance were made of stronger porcelain. There are some letters preserved in museum archives of clients complaining to Derby about its teapots bursting when filled with boiling water - this was because the porcelain was an early form of bone china that was not very sturdy yet, while Worcester, for instance, used soap stone in its porcelain, making it much more capable of dealing with quick temperature changes.

But this service survived almost unscathed. This pattern was popular and it is called the "artichoke" pattern - see the moulded surface in the shape of an artichoke. It is such a stunning and modern-looking design - it could have been designed yesterday! This turquoise ground colour was fashionable; the famous French Sèvres factory produced a lot in this colour. But the English makers couldn't make an even ground yet, and you can see that the ground colour is not completely perfect, which I think only adds to the charm of this set.

This fabulous service is now for sale, as well as several extra cups and saucers and one plate.

Where to find things

Although I will not be shipping anything until 8 January, the shop is open as normal, so feel free to browse, ask questions and make purchases! You can find all my available stock here. You can find all my available tea services here. If you always want to see the latest additions, follow me on Instagram... I post pictures and a story several times a week.

Happy new year to everyone, and have some tea to celebrate it! 💙🫖💙


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