Tea party in the Pagoda
Last week I showed a beautiful tea service by New Hall, made around the year 1800. This week I have another one from that period, made by Miles Mason. And again this is a service that is in near-perfect condition and suitable for use. I am always so excited when I come across a whole service like this; usually these get split up and sold off piece by piece, but there is something magical about seeing the whole service together and nothing beats using it for a special tea party!
Miles Mason, chinaman, racketeer, potter
Miles Mason was one of the original London "chinamen", which means he was a porcelain trader who would buy imported Chinese porcelain at the auctions of the East India Company and then resell it, sometimes after decorating it.
But the chinamen were notorious for racketeering the auctions; they would keep the prices low by making deals with each other, which obviously was an illegal practice. There was also a lot of trouble with importing the porcelain; China was at war and traders would undersupply, change orders or send broken or unmatched things. Once a ship had been on its way for up to two years, you wouldn't want to do a return!
Around the year 1795 the East India Company was fed up and they decided to stop all imports. This caused a massive crisis of a very British nature: the country quickly ran out of porcelain to serve its tea. Anyone who has spent time in Britain knows that this is an inexcusable problem!
This was the opportunity for British potters to start making their own porcelain; suddenly there was great demand. Porcelain production, which had always been prohibitively expensive, suddenly became viable. Miles Mason was one of the first ones to jump on the opportunity and quickly grew a successful factory.
Mason had so much experience as a trader that he knew exactly what customers wanted. They loved the traditional Chinese designs, so he produced these beautiful transfer printed versions of the famous "Pagoda" pattern. He touched them up with some gilt, and voilà: a beautiful tea service, made of very British bone china, but decorated in imitation of the trusted Chinese wares.
A matched service
Just like the service from last week, this tea service looks like it was matched and the items might be made in different years. The whole service is made of bone china, which points to production after 1805. But the teacups are bowls, which were becoming old fashioned at the time - however Miles Mason would have known that many more conservative customers were attached to what they knew and thought teacups with handles were too newfangled. The teapot, however, is from a bit later: it is the same oval shape as the one last week, which was popular from about 1810 onwards.
Where to find things
You can find this wonderful tea service, and many more, here in my shop. And you can find all my available stock here. If you always want to see the latest additions, follow me on Instagram... I post pictures and a story every single day.
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Happy weekend, and make sure you never run out of teaware! ☕️☕️☕️
This week's new treasures:
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