My sister was born in 1910 and married in 1933. She had a Shelley Bone China tea service as a wedding present and when she died, in the early 2000's, I was given what remained - one plate, three saucers and two cups. What memories they hold.
I remember them being used for afternoon tea in the 1940's. The style is Art Deco (R2110E) and the solid, triangular handles made it difficult to take hold of the cup when you were a child with small hands. But they represent English Bone China at its best.
I didn't realise until I did a bit of reading up on the subject, that bone china actually contains ground bone and that the reason my cups and saucers are so translucent is that Shelley used the largest percentage of bone of any of the Staffordshire potteries.
The production of this china began in 1860 when Wilemans built a pottery. James Shelley, who was a rep for Dresden, left Dresden and went to work for the Wilemans. In 1870 James Shelley and one of the Wileman sons went into partnership and in 1881 James's son, Percy, joined them and was to run the pottery for the next fifty years. Shelley finally sold out to Allied Potteries in 1966 and the era of Shelley Fine Bone China was over.
I also have an orange "trickle" bowl. Fifty years ago my toddler son accidentally knocked it off the coffee table (if you are reading this, Dominic, I forgive you!) - in the photograph you can clearly see the break, clean across the middle. But I love it still. The orange trickles down into the green and the bowl glows, as it always has done. I think it was bought about 1930.
Sad, in a way, that the age of delicate tea drinking has almost gone - we seem to always drink out of mugs now.
R I P John Mortimer 1923-2009. No new Rumpole of the Bailey to read. A sad passing.