Saturday, 17 January 2009

English Bone China.




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.

32 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I was not familiar with Shelley bone chinaand glad to discover it.
The tea cup design seems very of its period - when now we seem to be swamped with repros of roses.
People rarely mend china any more.
I remember the corner cabinets at home with teacups with staples in.

willow said...

I have several pieces of glassware and pottery that have been glued back together after being broken by my once toddlers. :)

I've never heard of "trickle" style.

Heather said...

I remember a beautiful Victorian ribbon plate which belonged to one of my grandmothers. It was given to me and hung in our hall until the day my husband picked up our toddler son and his little feet knocked it off it's hook. It smashed into smithereens. I was so upset I kept the pieces in a bag for ages before I could bear to throw them away. The other piece of china I remember is a little coffee cup and saucer, decorated with a cockerel in which my great aunts gave me tea when my mother took me to visit. I have no idea of the manufacturer's name but would love to come across one.

Poet in Residence said...

Weaver, I sadly confess to being a mug drinker. I can't be doing with dainty cups and my nowhere to put my little finger. Take a large pimpled mug of unknown origin and a teabag out of a yellow box. Pour on boiling water, add a splash or two of milk. Drink while hot. That's it. No manners, no taste, no sugar cube, no chitchat. If I want chitchat I can find a pub. I know, I'm a heathen! But there you are. Bottoms up!

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I too am a mug drinker! But I love to look at elegant pieces of china - as long as they are safely out of my range, preferably in cabinets! Yours are lovely, and the memories so precious.

jinksy said...

I'm so glad you didn't just throw out the bowl when it got cracked; Its warm glow remains unabated and is still able to gladden the eyes and soul.

elizabethm said...

Lovely china, I have a fondness for my dinner service (Royal Doulton, RIP) but am a mug drinker too in day to day life.
Yes, sad loss of John Mortimer. A good and funny man, although I met he was a devil to be married to.

Leilani Lee said...

I am so clumsy I would never dare use a fine china cup to drink out of! Sad day for me when US PBS stopped showing "Rumpole" with Leo whatever his name was. I have a "Rumpole and the Age of Miracles" short stories that I will have to read again soon

Reader Wil said...

You're right: we also drink out of mugs. The children nowadays don't know how to find combinations of words, like cup and saucer. They don't know what a saucer is!

Mistlethrush said...

I have a treasured bone china tea set!
It's true that for general use I use a mug - but it is a china mug. I enjoy the ring the china makes when I ping the rim (can't resist...) and I find the surface sheen satisfying. Yep - it's definitely a china mug for me....

david mcmahon said...

I know what you mean about the delicate art of tea drinking.

My parents only ever drank out of china - no mugs or anything! And I actually went to school in Darjeeling, home of the famous tea gardens.

greg rappleye said...

I am a mug drinker, as well.

Odd, I was drinking tea as I clicked on your site.

The Farmer's Border Collie looks like ours. Well, they all look somewhat alike, don't they?

Sal said...

I always thought that Shelley bone china was beautiful. I don't possess any though. Interesting info!! ;-)

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes elizabeth - those ugly staples. I think glues are so much better these days that staples are no longer used.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Willow - I made up the word trickle - the outside of the bowl has orange which has been left to trickle down over the green - very effectively.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Oh Heather, that reminded me of a glass powder bowl which my sister bought my mother with her first week's wages. My mother had it until she died, then my sister, then I inherited it and only had it a week when I knocked into the chest of drawers and sent it flying. I cried and cried.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Oh Poet in Residence - how my friend laughed at your comment. She thought I was the only person in the world who used the expression "I can't be doing with that!" (my favourite expression which I apply to anything which irritates me).
I use a mug, but like to look at this old china. I agree - on the odd occasion when I go to somewhere "posh" and am served tea,in china cups, I cannot help crooking my little finger!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Raph - how do you get the tea cup to your mouth to drink? Can quite understand why you need a mug - preferably unbreakable, I presume.

Lucy Corrander said...

I'm not sad bone china isn't used much now. Tea always seems to go cold sooner in cups than in mugs, especially in the wide topped ones that were in fashion when I was a child. (With awkward handles too!)

But, unlike Poet in Residence, I like tea-drinking as a sociable as well as a solitary practice.

(Maybe because I never go to a pub?)

Generally, when I offer someone a cup of tea, it really means 'Would you like to come into the kitchen, put your elbows on the table and have a good catch-up natter'.

Lucy

The Weaver of Grass said...

They don't make 'em like that any more, Jinksy!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Too right elizabeth - JM certainly had an eye for the ladies from his obituary!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Leilani Lee - Leo McKern - the Australian actor used to play Rumpole.

The Weaver of Grass said...

That's called progress reader wil!
Maybe we are old-fashioned to regret the passing of a cup and saucer. I think they are still used in places like The Ritz for afternoon tea.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I too have a few china mugs Mistlethrush but I am afraid I am a bit heavy handed with china. Being deaf I unload the dishwasher making far more of a clatter than I realise (if I have my hearing aid in I am deafened!)

The Weaver of Grass said...

Hi David - thanks for visiting. Shall visit your blog in a minute. Darjeeling is one of my favourite teas as it is fairly weak and I like my tea weak with no milk. Must have been lovely growing up there. Are you a conoisseur of tea?

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes Lucy - I think come for a cup of tea has become as much of a euphemism as come up and see my etchings. Somehow, mugs seem to invite chat more than cups don't they? In wonder why.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Greg - I think most Border Collies have that white neck and the white tip on the tail. We even call ours Tip' They are a nice dog thought, aren't they?

Kayla coo said...

I do love the deco style and I think your Shelly bone china is wonderful.
My sister who lives in London tells me there are quite a few tea rooms opening and they serve the tea in vintage cups.
Cups and saucers not matching,
it is quite the trend!

Teresa said...

What a wonderful, gentle post. I have a few pieces of English Bone China that my Mum brought with us when we moved to the U.S. I keep it out of harm's way in a hutch where I can admire it from time to time. And though I do confess to drinking from mugs quite regularly, occasionally (when I want to slow down the speed and constant changing of the crazy world in which we live), I'll take down a china cup and saucer and have a "proper" cup of tea!

BT said...

I used to buy china at auctions in Worthing, weaver. I came to love handling it and reading up about it. I sold a lot on ebay but still have a lot of Midwinter and Hornsea in boxes. I must sort out selling them one day.

I love the art deco style most of all and recognise the pattern in your tea set. We also have some Shelley dripware, as we call it. My husband particularly liked it.

BT said...

Weaver, I had no idea you too are deaf! Both ears or just one? I wear a hearing aid in my 'better' ear (48% hearing in it), my right ear. My left ear was operated on and is just about useless now. It did leave me with chronic tinnitus though. Thanks Mr Surgeon. Jim always complains I make a lot of noise when I empty the dishwasher! I broke a large mug tonight. Swiped it off the top with a scraper.

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