'Allowing little miss to make the tea is a very great promotion indeed'

A fine collection of ceramic 'toy' teawares assembled over more than 30 years, comes for sale this month

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A pearlware toy tea and coffee service printed in underglaze blue with a variation of the Long Bridge pattern, probably Leeds c.1800-10, the coffee pot 12.5cm high, estimate £100-150 at Halls.

The Enid and Bruce Moulder collection began in 1977 with the purchase of a child’s tea service from an antique shop in Woburn.

Another similar set was bought soon afterwards during a trip to Portobello Road market, and the collection continued growing until 2010. Some elements were sadly lost in a fire but more than 400 pieces remain, to be sold by Halls of Shrewsbury via an online auction that closes on November 23.

Small porcelain and earthenware teawares – most of these date from c.1790-1870 – were produced as novelties for adults and as playthings for children. Many of the Staffordshire potteries produced these small pots and there was great rivalry to offer new shapes, decoration and patterns, typically following the changing fashions. Families would sometimes order a full-size service for themselves alongside a miniature replica that would help young girls learn domestic skills.

Tea was a very important part of the social scene in the 18th and 19th centuries. An article in the July 1866 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book entitled Domestic Education indicates that competency in the tea ritual was an important part of a young woman’s maturing: “The next great step is in allowing little miss to make the tea, which is a very great promotion indeed, and ere many years go by she presides at the tea and breakfast table with a perfect sense of what is required of her”.

Of course, no tea or coffee was to be imbibed. Literature from the time strongly warned against children actually consuming tea or coffee due to its effects as a stimulant.

Pictured here is a selection of items on offer.

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Miniature Davenport teapot and cover c.1840-50 enamelled in the chinoiserie style with Oriental flowers on a black ground, 8.5cm high, estimate £80-120 at Halls.

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A Grainger's Worcester coffee pot c.1830-40 painted with roses and pansies to a pale blue ground, 10cm high, estimate £130-150 at Halls.

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A Pratt type pearlware teapot toy and cover c.1790 painted in green and brown with floral spring and a 'dagger' border, 10.5cm high, estimate £60-80 at Halls.

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A Chamberlain's Worcester hybrid hard-paste porcelain toy tea service c.1796-98, the teapot 13cm high, estimate £150-200 at Halls.

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A Swansea red transfer printed toy tea service c.1830-40, the teapot 9.5cm high, estimate £80-120 at Halls.


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