A scarce service of 18th century Caughley miniature porcelain teawares,
consisting of 22 pieces :
A Teapot and Cover
Three Trios (Saucer, Coffee Cup & Teabowl)
Four Large Oval Serving Dishes
Two Smaller Oval Serving Dishes
Pair of Small Dishes and a Saucer
Each hand painted in underglaze blue with a central island issuing fern-like trees
sided by two pagodas,
below a circular sun and birds,
the larger pieces with two sampans in the foreground,
(the sampans omitted randomly in some of the wares);
all within loose lambrequin type borders
The Island Pattern was introduced by Caughley in the late 1770's, and made until about 1790-95.
Unlike the Pleasure Boat pattern, it was hand-painted on very high quality porcelain.
As the pattern was designed for miniatures alone, the sizes often vary,
are out of scale to their full sized correspondents - particularly the round dishes.
The exact purpose of these small porcelains is debated.
Their European heritage dates from Chinese Kangxi miniatures of the late
when they were often described as "doll house"
porcelain, being used for display in wall cabinets.
Some report the
very early miniature jars as being used for "medicines".
The above right miniature blue and white Chinese Export pot is illustrated in
"The Simpson Collection of Eighteenth Century English Blue and White Miniature Porcelain",
Simon Spero, p. 7, Illustration no. 1, and was sold by this gallery a few years ago.
Spero discusses the popularity of collecting miniature wares,
particularly among the gentleman
collectors in Holland
- who bought such teapots for decorative purposes or for use in a doll house.
He further indicates the model of this pot, likely for
as being the prototype of the English miniature teapots.
It is said that Her rooms at Kensington Palace,
Queen Mary II (1689-1694)
decorated with many small vases
on displayed on gilded brackets and on little ledges, and on any and
every available surface.
In the words of
Daniel Defoe, 1650-1731:
"piling their China upon the tops of cabinets, scrutores,
and every chymney-piece, to the top of the ceilings".
It has been further suggested that these miniature tea services
were used to teach British children proper etiquette --
in which case, it is a miracle that any at all are left!
Please click on any of the above images for larger images and more information.
Offered as a 22 piece set.