Antique Tea Cups, Collecting Gracious Living
Collecting antique tea cups is a popular hobby for many people. These beautiful vessels remind their owners of another era, a slower pace, and a more elegant lifestyle.
Most of these lovely antiques can continue to be gently used and enjoyed on a regular basis. Some very delicate, rare, or special cups should probably be left for display only, and some that may be cracked or chipped and no longer useable, are wonderful for various crafts and decorations.
Most tea cups are very affordable and can be purchased for less than ten dollars. This makes them a very attractive collectible.
Tea Cup History
Tea cups have been used in China since ancient times. These early teacups were nothing more than small bowls that were held in the hands while tea was sipped from them.
Once tea became popular in Europe the tea cup needed to be redesigned. The nobility used silver or pewter for their tea and the heat made the metal hot and impossible to hold. Dainty, fragile porcelain cups were developed with small handles. Tea cups continued to develop and change until Victorian times when they were at the height of popularity and the pinnacle of creative and beautiful design.
It was during the Victorian Age that taking tea became the rage all over the world, due in large part, to Queen Victoria. Victorian ladies of means spent afternoons visiting friends, and having fanciful and delicately prepared foods to go with their tea. Giving a friend a tea cup and saucer as a gift was popular for many different occasions.
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Tea Cups, Collecting Gracious Living One Cup at a Time
It isn’t difficult to build a collection of vintage tea cups. Hundreds of sites have them listed on a daily basis. Other places, besides the Internet, to get antique tea cups are:
- Thrift shops
- Local antique stores
- Garage sales
- Rummage sales
Be careful, though. Coffee cups are sometimes mistaken for tea cups. There are a few ways to tell the two apart.
- Tea cups has the handle places higher
- More ornately embellished
- Comes with a saucer
- More delicate
Some Popular Manufacturers of Teacups
Like anything else, some manufacturers are more popular than others. Some pieces will command higher prices than others. It is hard to predict what will be popular from year to year. Some of the most consistently popular manufacturers are:
- Royal Doulton
Tea cups can also be collected according to a particular design or color:
- Other florals
- Gold edged
Tea cups can be collected according to where they were made, as well.
- Occupied Japan
Collecting and Cleaning
As with any collectible it is important to educate yourself about the rarity and values of certain cups. Learn what to look for and what to stay away from. Here are some tips that may help:
- Check for staining. It may come off and then again it may not.
- Made in China is not vintage
- Use finger tips to detect small nicks
- Teach yourself the difference between bone china and porcelain.
- Look for old glue lines
- If you are buying online be sure that you read and thoroughly understand the seller’s return policy. Always get insurance if it is to be mailed.
Caring for Your Vintage Tea Cup
Antique and vintage china needs to be used and handled with care. They are more delicate and often harder to replace than a new tea cup. Be careful with storage and cleaning, especially, as these are times when the cup is prone to being chipped or dropped.
Always hand wash with a mild soap.
Don’t use the dishwasher for antique china
Don’t soak it because it will mess up the glaze
If you use lemon in your tea, or other acidic material in the cup, rinse it immediately
Whether you use your antique tea cup collection everyday or keep it behind glass, tea cups are fascinating collectibles.
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