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Children's Tea Sets, Heirlooms of Tomorrow
Throughout history children's tea sets have been a popular toy for little girls. The ability to mimic the adults in their lives by celebrating tea can spark a child's imagination and keep her busy for hours.
History of Children’s Tea Sets
Dolls have been a favorite toy since prehistory. Greek and Roman potters made dishes and other utensils for children to use when playing with their dolls however it wasn't until the 1500s that the first toy tea set was recorded. The sets were made for the children of royalty and nobles and were made from pewter or copper.
Most of the children's tea sets were made in Germany and were an exclusive German export for centuries. It was the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1855 that introduced the concept of tea sets for children to the majority of the population. It was also during this time that technological advances in manufacturing made creating children's sets less expensive and therefore more affordable to the general population.
Celluloid and Bakelite were materials that became important materials after the Civil War. These materials could be found in children's toys as well as items made for adults. The plastic was colorful and easy to mold but best of all it was inexpensive. Mass production was increasing and the combination of the new materials and the new technologies meant that almost anyone could buy a tea seat for their child.
These antique toy tea sets are very collectible and command high prices at auction.
Tea Sets for Children Today
Children still love tea sets and the adults in their lives still enjoy buying them. Little girls and tea parties just go together, whether the party is with a collection of dolls and stuffed bears or a dress up party with real tea and real friends.
Tea sets today are made from a variety of materials including porcelain and plastic, as well as recycled plastics. They can be found in many styles and in many price ranges; appropriate for any budget. It is important to check the country of origin and also to ensure that the set meets all United States government regulations for tableware.
Some sets are meant for display only and may be painted with lead based paints that could compromise your child's health. Especially if your child will be drinking real, hot tea from a set you should invest in a good quality, food safe, porcelain set.
Contents of the Tea Set
The sets vary but most will have similar items to a real set.
- Sugar bowl
Some sets will come in a carrying case or special basket and have linens, dessert plates, a tea tray, or other items.
You can put together your own set for a child by purchasing a basic set and then adding a vintage tablecloth from the thrift shop as well as some felt or plastic foods. You may want to include an apron or other item that seems perfect.
Where to Buy Tea Sets
Tea sets for children are available almost everywhere from ToysRUs to the local thrift shop. Wal-mart, Target, and even the dollar store are sure to have a selection of inexpensive sets that you can buy. For more expensive china sets you may want to look online or at local boutiques.
Tea sets are a fun toy that can capture your child's imagination. They make a great addition to a playroom and the better sets will surely be heirlooms that are handed down from one generation to another.