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Tea parties are a quintessentially Victorian way to socialise and, although they were certainly taking place in earlier years, they are thought to have really gained popularity in the 1840s. Before this time, it was usual for people to eat just a light lunch, before waiting endless hours for a more substantial evening meal. The Duchess of Bedford, a friend of Queen Victoria herself, complained of light-headedness as the afternoon progressed, and invited acquaintances to share an extra meal with her at around 4pm. The tea party was soon established as a fashionable way to catch up. Exotic teas from far-flung corners of the Empire, exquisite morsels of confectionary and dainty sandwiches were all tea party essentials. In response, ceramicists and designers began creating tea sets, matching teapots, milk jugs and sugar bowls to the cups and saucers for a snack that was as prettily presented as it was delicious. Fine china and silver Victorian tea sets are among some of the most beautiful and sought-after antiques sold today. Whether you’re looking for Victorian tea sets to treasure, to display, to pass on as a gift, or even to use, you’ll find plenty on Vinterior. Take a look at what’s available on our marketplace today.
A little more about Victorian tea sets?Originally, the notion of a tea set, and all of the ritual associated with it, was a Chinese idea. However, in the 19th century a perfect storm of circumstances meant that tea became central to the British way of life. The railways were invented, so dairy farmers could get their milk to city-dwellers before it turned. Tea from China and sugar from the Caribbean were becoming ever more affordable luxuries. Ceramics makers the length and breadth of Britain spotted their opportunity to sell stunning tea sets designed to impress guests. Super feminine, in pretty colours or polished silver, with a fairy-tale quality and a special place in British history, Victorian tea sets are lovely collectors’ pieces.
Silver teapots, creamers and sugar bowls, both solid and plate, were popular with the Victorians. Embellished with intricate engravings, and sometimes monogrammed, these were status symbols taken out to be shown off. Some of the most valued Victorian tea sets are those made of bone china. First manufactured in around 1800, bone china contains actual powdered animal bone. It is this that gives the porcelain its fragile, translucent finish. However, this fineness is also what makes it so delicate and, therefore, rare.
Today, a full bone china Victorian tea set is an extremely unlikely find. However, there is pleasure to be taken from the quiet appreciation of one pristine bone china cup and saucer, a perfect sugar bowl or a much-treasured teapot.
Why choose Victorian tea sets?Any item that has survived without incident from Victorian times is special. However, a tea set is inherently fragile, as well as being intimately linked to the family who originally used it. Carrying in them the essence of Victorian life, as well as being beautiful, these objects are simply fascinating. If you love the style and tradition of an antique Victorian tea set, there are a number of stunning listings here at Vinterior. Consider first how you intend to use a tea set – be it for practical purposes or just for show. Then consider whether it is the silver, ceramic or perhaps copper option you wish to use to complement the rest of your home décor – after all, it is likely you will leave your fine tea set out on show.
However, you decide to use your Victorian tea set, you have come to the right place.