This is a brief post between a very enjoyable catch up with Elaine from Random Jottings (always a treat) and having people round for a very slightly late Burns night this evening but I got some new cups this week and feel the need to share.
For years I meant to gather a collection, first of old coronation mugs when they could still be picked up for about a pound, and generally of tea cups, saucers, and ideally a sandwich plate as well. For years I did nothing about it at all in which time the price of royal memorabilia crept up past the point of practicality (between five and ten pounds when I see them now) and I still couldn't make up my mind about a tea set. The first conundrum was whether to have something that matched, the issue being that an attractive tea set is pricey balanced against how often I'm likely to use it, an unattractive one is both pricey and pointless - but there are plenty of them out there.
My second dilemma was whether to hunt out good quality china - beautiful cups and saucers from very respectable makers can still be picked up as odds for about ten to fifteen pounds - and some of them are lovely, almost to lovely to use, quite impossible to replace if you get very fond of one, and probably to extravagant for my needs, but there is a third way and late last autumn I decided to finally follow it.
Charity shops have proved a dead loss for this but I've found a couple of antique stalls where for a very modest sum (about four pounds for a trio, and yes I've been told that's robbery compared to car boot sales and auctions, but it saves me no end of bother and I'm quite happy to pay it) you can get a cup, saucer, and plate in perfectly acceptable bone china if nothing else. These are the sets that have quite obviously been used a lot and probably originally came from Woolworths or similar. My favourite so far features a hunting scene, I wouldn't have given house room to the whole tea set but I love this one example; I firmly believe that altogether this mismatched collection looks great...
They haven't had a proper airing yet - I need to organise a tea party sometime soon - and truthfully I really don't have the space for collecting more junk, but these cups have a real charm. They have so obviously seen life - I can only imagine the amount of gossip shared over them - that I find them hard to resist. I suspect that in another few years they will cost more than I want to pay (I'm not pretending that they're an investment) but already I've seen prettily boxed versions of much the same thing in Liberty's for an eye-watering amount (also saucers with lustre ware cups on them that reflect the pattern but have a contemporary spin and are the kind of idea I kick myself for not having first and thus making a mini fortune out of) so I'm buying whilst I can.
Quite likely I'll get rid of them all one day in a fit of streamlining but meanwhile I imagine generations of women before me sitting down for tea with friends, or on their own with the latest Georgette Heyer, or perhaps even entertaining a vicar (I do hope that at least one of these cups has entertained a vicar...) and think I must entertain more.