Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Sugar bowl and cover

Sugar bowl and cover

  • Place of origin:

    Worcester (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1775 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Worcester porcelain factory (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Porcelain, transfer-printed in black enamel

  • Credit Line:

    Transferred from the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 139, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 5, shelf 3 []

A sugar bowl formed an essential part of English tea services from the 1700s. Tea began to be imported into Britain from the middle of the 17th century but remained a luxury item until import duties were abolished in 1784. English tea drinkers differed from their Chinese counterparts by preferring to drink tea hot with milk and sugar, the latter becoming increasingly available through West Indies sugar plantations which relied on the labour of African slaves.

‘The Tea Party’ engraving by Robert Hancock, which appears on this sugar bowl, is one of the most popular designs to have been used on 18th century English ceramics. It shows a couple drinking tea in a garden, often attended by a young black male servant who holds a kettle of hot water. A scene of a ‘Maid and Page’ on the side of the bowl shows a black boy carrying a kettle. About 10,000 Africans are estimated to have been living in 18th century England, most working as, often unpaid, domestic staff. For their affluent owners these African servants were status symbols who offered ‘exotic associations’ like the new beverage, tea.

Physical description

Porcelain sugar bowl and cover, transfer-printed in overglaze black. Scenes include 'The Tea Party', 'Gardeners Grafting a Tree', and 'Maid and Page'.

Place of Origin

Worcester (made)


ca. 1775 (made)


Worcester porcelain factory (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Porcelain, transfer-printed in black enamel


Height: 5 in, Diameter: 4 in

Object history note

Transferred from the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street, London to the V&A Museum in 1901.

Descriptive line

Sugar bowl and cover with transfer-printed scene of 'The Tea Party', made by Worcester porcelain factory, ca. 1775




Transfer printed

Subjects depicted



Black History; Ceramics; Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares; Porcelain


Ceramics Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.