Are you in the market to purchase a vintage English tea set but don’t know where to start?
Vintage tea sets are a popular choice for those who want to enjoy a classic tea drinking experience. And there are so many to choose from! But do you know what to look for when purchasing a set?
There are many factors to consider, and in this article, we will get you all the information you need by taking a look at some of the most important factors.
Read on for more!
Brief History of Tea Sets from England
Back in the early days of tea-drinking, tea sets were not as ornate or decorative as they are today. In fact, they were quite simple and functional.
The first tea sets in Britain were made of earthenware, but unfortunately, many people didn’t consider the substance to be quite sophisticated enough.
It wasn’t until Josiah Wedgwood, an English potter and entrepreneur, created an imitation porcelain earthenware called creamware that its popularity began to grow. Wedgwood enjoyed the simple air of cream colored glazes, as opposed to glazes with color.
As time went on, porcelain became the material of choice for tea sets. During the Industrial Revolution in 1784, the United Kingdom really upped their production of tea sets.
By around 1800, another man by the same first name, Josiah Spode, had invented a new substance called fine bone china.
Fine bone china is a combination of china clay, china bone, and bone ash, and it is known for being extremely strong and durable. It’s also beautiful and has the capability of creating lighter and thinner pottery bodies than porcelain, which made it the perfect material for tea sets.
Soon, different patterns and designs started to become popular, which is why we have so many quirky and creative vintage tea sets today!
Famous Vintage English Tea Sets Brands and Manufacturers
With so many styles of English tea sets to choose from for your afternoon tea, you may want a quick guide to meet the famous brands and manufacturers in all things teaware.
There are many famous brands, and their collections of beautiful patterns are highly sought after by collectors. Many can even be quite valuable.
Here are several of the most popular manufacturers and a little bit about them:
Royal Albert is a British porcelain manufacturer that was established in 1896 by Thomas Wild. Inspired by English cottage gardens, Royal Albert became well known for its cheeky feminine vintage tea sets, which were often decorated with bright and beautiful floral patterns, from chintz to art deco.
They offer a wide variety of sets to choose from, so you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for your afternoon tea.
Aynsley is another British manufacturer of fine china. It was founded in 1775. It is known for its elegant and well-crafted designs, often featuring delicate floral patterns in a pastel palette.
Royal Stafford is a British company that was founded in 1845. It’s perhaps most famous for its cream-colored earthenware, and much of their production is still done by hand.
Shelley pottery began creating fine bone china teaware in the 1870s and quickly gained popularity. The Shelley brand unfortunately stopped producing china in 1965, so all that remains are the beautiful pottery pieces already created.
They are especially known for their Art Deco pieces.
Worcester is a British company that was founded in 1751. It’s considered to be one of the oldest porcelain brands in England that is still remaining. It’s best known for its high-quality tea sets, which are often decorated with beautiful patterns.
Wedgwood is a British company that was founded in 1759 by Josiah Wedgwood. It’s perhaps most famous for its Jasperware, a type of stoneware that was first created by Wedgwood and is known for its beautiful, naturalistic designs.
Royal Doulton is a British company that was founded in 1815. Then in 1881, it began creating bone china tableware. Even though it’s not as old as many of the other British tea set brands, it still became well known for its collectible figurines as well as its beautiful and elegant tea sets.
Paragon China was a British company that was in business from 1919 to the 1960s, when it was taken over by the manufacturers of Royal Albert. They manufactured bone china and were very popular during the 1920s and 1930s.
Stanley pottery, founded in 1909, was a British company that manufactured earthenware until 1937. The company was known for its flow blue pattern with gold or silver edging.
Valuable Vintage English Tea Sets Patterns
If you’re scouring Pinterest for the perfect vintage tea set for your tea time entertainment, you may be wondering which pattern to pick.
And if you want to build a valuable collection, you’ll want to do your research ahead of time. When purchasing a set, it is important to keep in mind that the pattern is one of the most important factors in determining value.
Here are a few of the most popular and collectible vintage English tea set patterns:
Royal Albert – Old Country Roses
The Old Country Roses pattern from Royal Albert is one of the most popular and well-known patterns for vintage tea sets. It features beautiful pink, yellow, and burgundy roses set against a cream-colored background.
This pattern has been around since the 1960s and is still highly sought after by collectors today. In fact, a single teacup and saucer can go for $50 or more, and a chintz teapot in excellent condition could go for $600!
Aynsley – Bluebell
The Bluebell pattern from Aynsley is a popular vintage tea set pattern that was first created in the 1930s. In this pattern, you’ll find beautiful bluebell flowers, a country road, and a group of trees against a white background.
This pattern is still well-loved by collectors and can sell for upwards of $100 for a set of four dessert plates in good condition.
Shelley – Wild Flowers
The Wild Flowers pattern #13668 was first created in the 1950s and quickly gained notoriety. It displays a variety of different flowers, including foxglove, lilies, and bluebells, among others, set against a white background.
This pattern is still very popular among collectors and can sell for $550 for a 21-piece set (for six).
Wedgwood – Runnymede Blue
The Runnymede-Blue pattern was made between 1972 and 1998. It displays a dark blue band on the china’s rim, pink clam shells atop the band, and a floral bundle in the center.
This discontinued pattern is indeed a valuable one, where a single sugar bowl and lid can go for around $65, and a coffee pot can bring in $170!
What to Look For When Purchasing Vintage English Tea Sets
Now that you know more about the history and popular patterns of British teaware, let’s investigate what you should look for when purchasing a set of your own.
Here are a few factors you should keep in mind:
It is important to consider the condition of the set. Vintage English tea sets that are in perfect condition are typically more valuable than those that are in good condition. Sets that have cracks or chips are usually less valuable.
As we’ve mentioned, English teaware is usually made from porcelain, earthenware, or bone china. Porcelain is the most expensive and delicate of the three materials, while earthenware is the most durable. Bone china is somewhere in between, being both delicate and durable.
Vintage tea sets come in a plethora of different patterns. Do you have a favorite one? This is one of the most important factors when purchasing a set of value. The more rare, hard to come by, and popular a pattern is, the more valuable it will be.
How Complete is the Set?
When purchasing a vintage English tea set, you’ll want to consider how complete the set is. A full set that includes all original pieces will be more valuable than one that is missing pieces or has replacement pieces.
Where to Buy Vintage English Tea Sets
So now that you know what to look for in a set, where is the best place to purchase one?
There are a few different avenues you can take:
Etsy or eBay
Etsy and eBay are great places to find vintage teaware from England. You’ll want to make sure that you’re purchasing from a reputable seller with great reviews and detailed photographs.
Auction houses are a great place to find vintage tea sets. Pieces will be valued and vetted by experts, but you may have to pay a bit more for your set than you would through other avenues.
Local Vintage Shops
Local vintage shops are another option for finding a set. You may have to do some digging, but you may be able to find a great set at a reasonable price if you’re lucky!
Now You Know All About Vintage English Tea Sets
Vintage English tea sets are a popular choice for those who want to enjoy a classic tea drinking experience. There are many factors to consider when purchasing antique tea sets, and in this article, we have looked at some of the most important factors. We hope you found it helpful!
Which is your favorite tea set pattern? Let us know in the comments.
Happy tea drinking!