Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tea sets as collectibles

Remember when you were young and had a tea set? And all your friends drank imaginary tea with you? 

There are some things that do not require growing up. Drinking tea is one. Drinking tea out of lovely cups is another. Weren't your tiny cups just the most beautiful in the world? Now the question is where will you get your adult cups? And that teapot?

                             I never gave tea or cups or teapots a thought until I first traveled in France in 1976. Two friends and I were participating in a two-year French program for teachers and sponsored by the French government, which was desirous of continuing its language around the world. The French were concentrating their efforts on Maine and Louisiana, both states heavy with French history and culture.
The above is a link to CODOFIL the program in which I participated. Please click for more information.
CODOFIL means the Council on the Development of French in Louisiana. 

We were granted study scholarships for five weeks, which paid for our dorms, food, airfare, and even supplied expense money. Because we were so immersed in the culture for those weeks, I acquired a taste for three things French (among other things): red wine, expresso with lemon and sugar, and hot tea with milk. 

I think their tea habit came from the English from whom many French learned their English. Oh? How do I know? That lovely British accent coming from French throats that spoke English. Incidentally, it was in France where I learned that I do not speak English--I speak American--and not only that, but Southern American.

I remember one time going to a local Italian restaurant  at home with the ex-husband, (Italian as in run by Italians from Italy) and ordering lemon with my expresso. The owner who did business my ex-husband was quick to disdain my preference for lemon. I explained that's how I learned to drink it. "Where? In France?" he queried. "Well, yes, as a matter of fact," I explained. He wanted me to drink it without lemon (he, the ex, not the owner, but I wouldn't).

The first in my collection came from France--Avignon to be exact, in 1976. I had gone to France to study French exponentially. Our base of operations was Montpelier in southern France. 

For more information about Montpellier, please click on this link: 

On the weekends we took our Eurail passes ( ) and hit the road, or tracks to see the countryside and practice our French. We arrived in Avignon, a small city not far from Montpelier. I still hold a great fondness for Avignon, for we arrived during their annual crafts fair, much on par, I think, with our local Red River Revel. What an adventure!!  

For more information about Avignon, please click on this website:


One of the items I bought from a craftsman or artisan was this squatty teapot and sugar bowl. Either there was no creamer or I didn't buy it--I don't remember now. The problem was trying to carry that package, which the artisan carefully wrapped for me. You see, I went to France with a crushed heel, wrapped in an ace bandage, trying to make my way on crutches. I had to figure out how to carry things while on crutches. I finally discarded one crutch to free one arm and off I went! I became quite adept at getting around with only one foot and one arm, the matching pair occupied with the heel.

It is no telling how many many times I had tea from my Avignon teapot over the years. See the picture for its quaintness.

Three years later one friend and I returned to France for our second five-week study period in France, this time in Dijon, a central French location. During the weekend we traveled to England, I bought my next teapot: a Brown Betty teapot. At the time I did not know what it a Brown Betty was. I have used that teapot hundreds of times over the years!

A friend gave me the next teapot --and I confess to never having used it--you'll see why--Look! Could you drink tea that came from a carrot with a rabbit in it? It doesn't seem decent, now, does it? I simply display this one.

The next came in parts--a cup, a spoon, a plate, at a time as gifts for various occasions from my two best friends, Betty and Donna.

For my display I added a lovely pink flowered print in a pink frame, a pink sherbet dish, and four lovely pink wine/liquer glasses. The basket on the left holds a box of scone mix. In the back right corner is a cup and saucer which belonged to my grandmother. It is at least 60 years old and works nicely as a companion cup and saucer to my set of two cups, saucers, and dessert plates.

This delightful Hello Kitty and Hello Little Tom cup and saucer I bought in Thailand. It seemed so out of place, but please notice how many items are made in Thailand. Check out your labels to learn how many Southeast Asian countries are responsible for many many products.

I left it large for the details!
                                                Don't you love it!

Then I acquired a couple of set from eBay. Since my favorite color is orange, I just had to have this orange set I discovered on eBay. Wouldn't it be really nice to learn the history behind some of these pieces?
                                                                                My eBay set

That was so pleasant, I followed up with a really lovely, handpainted Japanese set:  Just behind it is a more modernistic teapot in the chocolate hue. (See below)

The pale pale pink teapot on the left I acquired from eBay. The one on the right is a gift from a friend.

One day I will host a tea party with themed rooms and a different set in each room with conversation drifting around the themes. One of these will be Chinese and focus on green tea--the real green tea. The teapot and cups I will use came from my sister as a gift for earning my master's degree which took me several years. This has been my go-to set for several years until this summer. I took a close-up of the birds so details would be more evident. These are lovely hand-painted pieces.

I love Blue Willow china from England and had a complete set which my mother-in-law gave me, well, she gave us. At the divorce the ex would not let me take it as it "belonged to the family" and I was no longer family.

So I acquired this teapot, a sort of look-alike Blue Willow. The real thing was too expensive. But you've figured by now that I don't spend a forture on this hobby.  The teapot has a good feel in the hand and pours beautifully! A great acquisition!

Then one day I found it! I found the perfect Blue Willow teapot on eBay. It's a Winston Churchill brand but still suffices as Blue Willow and in perfect condition. Usually on eBay I lose at the last minute, but this time I won and did not pay an arm or leg for that matter. My Blue Willow: (see above)

But the piece de resistance is the complete white set given to me by friends at my retirement from public schools. The cup is my own contribution.

Next: teas


Colin (UK) said...

Charming and idiosyncratic (just like your Amazon reviews).

Have a Happy Crimbo and New Year.

Colin (UK)

Judy said...

Merry Christmas and happy New Year back at ya!!
"Idiosyncratic"--thank you for this lovely compliment!!
Are you the same Colin, Betty's friend?

Colin (UK) said...

The very same!

A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

Judy's shared items

Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.