This ceramic tea set is soon to appear in ‘Life in Miniature’, our Hands on History session on Saturday 20th April. The small-scale tea set was donated to Nuneaton Museum by someone who grew up in Bull Street in Attleborough. At the donor’s childhood home in the early 1930s, the little tea set was kept in a cupboard and brought out only occasionally for careful playing.
Mini tea sets such as this one are often called doll’s tea sets or toy tea sets. Given to girls as precious gifts, doll’s tea sets were usually reserved to be played with on special occasions under parental supervision as reflected in the donor’s experience.
The tea set consists of six plates, six cups and saucers, a teapot, cream jug and sugar bowl with a floral design in pink, green and blue. The ceramic has a lustre glaze. Faience is a type of fine tin glazed pottery that, during the nineteenth century was predominantly produced in England and France. Scientific and technical advancements in faience and porcelain manufacture in nineteenth century Europe broadened the scope of their use. Faience and porcelain began to be used to make toys including doll’s tea sets and other doll’s accessories.
Each piece of the tea set is marked ‘Foreign’ indicating that it was not produced in England but imported from another country. It was not until 1923, that imported goods were required by law to be marked as made in their country of origin such as ‘Made in England’ or ‘Made in China’.
Just as the doll’s tea set was hidden away for its protection in a cupboard in the donor’s childhood home and brought out only occasionally, it has been kept in our museum store for preservation but will be brought out for the special occasion of ‘Life in Miniature’ this Saturday 20th April from 11 am – 4 pm in the Picture Gallery.