Friday, 8 November 2013

Tea Ware

Collecting Antique Tea Treasures


Winnie Runnquiet, the owner of W.R. Antiques is a knowledgeable gem of history that translated into owning one of the most eclectic antique shop in the city of Toronto at 179 Queen St East. Winnie also supplies those props for the popular television series, Murdoch Murder Mysteries.

Winnie talked about the history of tea and we shared our tidbits starting with the introduction of afternoon tea by Anne the Duchess of Bedford. In fact, the tea cup and saucer was used with mainly the saucer as the drinking instrument. Tea was too hot and to cool it down the tea was poured from the cup to the saucer for cooling. The olde saying was “to have a dish of tea” instead of a cup of tea in the late 1700’s.

The Worcester Tea Cup is from 1753-60, Britain with no markings, as they were used in the 1800s. This is an excellent example of what is called “blue and white”. The word China was applied to tea ware as the porcelain process was developed in China. The blue and white ware was started in the Yeung dynasty who were Mongolian and traveled to Turkey and the Middle East to bring back the use of colors. Note, the wonderful hand painted blue tones. Simple and beautiful.


Tea was an expensive commodity and kept under lock and key. Tea was only grown and produced in China and there were limited shipments. Special tea caddies were produced like fine objects of art and with special lead lined compartments for the tea leaves. They are collected as part of the history but are not used as the compartments are lead lined and poisonous. The tea caddies are distinctive in regards to the period with the Victorian one having a casket top as they were obsessed with death. The lead lining on the inside of the caddy is worn out.
The Regency has a stylized brass work on the keyhole and three sections in the interior with the middle section as a mixing area to house a bowl. The Georgian tea caddy has a similar middle section.

Winnie added to my knowledge of tea ware within a historical context and instead of looking at crockery at a museum I received a personal journey in the art of tea.

Winnie Runnquiet
179 Queen St East
Toronto, Ontario
phone 416-504-6900

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