Recently, we acquired a lovely old estate tea cup for our vintage and antique collection. It was old porcelain with no mark and completely handpainted. A beauty! The only historical clue is an old sticker on the bottom of the saucer which says "Aunt Claire"...apparently the former owner. When I hold these old tea cups, particularly the ones with a little character, a romantic notion strikes me. What have they seen? What joys celebrated? What sorrows comforted? What frustrations soothed? What would they say if they could talk?
Collecting tea cups, or anything vintage, is always an adventure. Sometimes you'll find a bit of history or a rare treasure. Other times, you'll find a common piece that you really love. With tea cups, there are so many to choose from at flea markets, estate sales, antique shops, garage sales and online. In fact, the choice on ebay alone is staggering! So, how do you determine what to collect?
Some people collect tea cups made in specific regions such as England, Japan or Europe. Others collect specific manufactures such as Royal Winton, Lefton, Satsuma or Limoges. You can collect certain patterns or types such as Geisha Girl porcelain, Blue Willow, Royal Winton Julia Chintz, or Limoges hand painted designs.
However, most collectors choose tea cups they love. We believe this is the best way to collect and offer the following simple guidelines for your consideration.
1. First and most important, choose what you really love and will still enjoy 10-20 years from now.
2. Don't collect for value or profit. Tea cups or anything vintage are like fine art. It will only be a valuable as the consumer demand for it. A tea cup purchased for little money may never be worth much except to you or it may someday be valuable to collectors. Conversely, a tea cup in high demand and highly priced may eventually lose value if the demand for it goes down. So again, whether vintage or new, buy what you love.
3. Finally, make memories with your collection. It's easy with tea cups! Make sure you have tea parties with your collection: big, small or even just you. Celebrate joys, comfort sorrows, sooth frustrations, share your life and enjoy your tea cups. They won't talk! :-)
For information on Wileman Shelley China, visit our posting The Wileman Shelley Potteries: A Brief History.
We invite you to browse our current selection of vintage & antique tea cups as well as new bone china teapots, tea sets and other delights.