Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Silver, Room 65, The Whiteley Galleries

Miniature Coffee Pot

ca. 1720 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This miniature coffee pot is a toy. The term toy included any knick-knack or fashionable trinket for adults, as well as a child’s plaything. Silver toys like this one copied the exact details and proportions of normal sized pieces and came in a variety of subjects and sizes, ranging from domestic utensils to elaborate furniture.

There are several explanations for them. They might have been intended to furnish dolls’ houses. They might have been miniature trade samples. They might have been practice pieces for apprentices. They might have been fashionable novelties for adults to collect or they might simply have been playthings for rich children. In 1571, the daughter of Henry II of France ordered a set of small silver ‘pots, bowls, plates and other articles’ to give to a royal child.

The high point of production in London was the period 1700-1750. Because they were light and small, silver toys are not fully hallmarked. The form of the maker’s or retailer’s mark helps to date them.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Miniature Coffee Pot
  • Miniature Lid for a Coffee Pot
Materials and Techniques
Silver
Brief Description
Silver, London ca.1720, mark of David Clayton
Physical Description
Silver, tapering with straight spout set at right angles to the handle of turned wood. Domed lid with knop (detachable).
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.5in
  • Width: 2.875in
Marks and Inscriptions
Mark of DC for David Clayton
Gallery Label
COFFEE POT London, around 1720 Mark of David Clayton Denton Welch Bequest M.48:1-2,-1949
Credit line
Bequeathed by Denton Welch
Object history
Bequest - Denton Welch

Acquisition RF: 49 / 263
Summary
This miniature coffee pot is a toy. The term toy included any knick-knack or fashionable trinket for adults, as well as a child’s plaything. Silver toys like this one copied the exact details and proportions of normal sized pieces and came in a variety of subjects and sizes, ranging from domestic utensils to elaborate furniture.



There are several explanations for them. They might have been intended to furnish dolls’ houses. They might have been miniature trade samples. They might have been practice pieces for apprentices. They might have been fashionable novelties for adults to collect or they might simply have been playthings for rich children. In 1571, the daughter of Henry II of France ordered a set of small silver ‘pots, bowls, plates and other articles’ to give to a royal child.



The high point of production in London was the period 1700-1750. Because they were light and small, silver toys are not fully hallmarked. The form of the maker’s or retailer’s mark helps to date them.
Bibliographic Reference
Houart, V., Miniature Silver Toys, 1981. pp. 174, Pl. 213 Poliakoff, M., Silver Toys and Miniatures V&A pp.15, Pl. 24
Collection
Accession Number
M.48:1, 2-1949

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record createdSeptember 10, 2004
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