The collection began in 1977 with the purchase of a child’s tea service from an antiques shop in Woburn and continued growing until 2010. Some elements were sadly lost in a fire but more than 400 pieces remain.
Small bone china, porcelain and earthenware tea cups and saucers were produced as novelties but also so young girls could learn domestic skills.
An article in the July 1866 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book titled 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.”
Top price at this Shrewsbury auction was the £620 (estimate £60-80) paid for a group of assorted child or bachelor’s teawares including examples from Wedgwood, Cockson & Harding and Spode among others.
The highest-priced individual item was a 3in (8cm) Davenport teapot and cover c.1840-50 which took £170 against a guide of £80-120.