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The Tea Party

  • Object:

    Cup and saucer

  • Place of origin:

    Worcester (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1765 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hancock, Robert (engraver)
    Worcester porcelain factory (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Steatitic soft-paste porcelain, thrown and turned, and transfer-printed in black enamel

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Ionides

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

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

This cup and saucer has transfer-printed decoration. This new technique revolutionised ceramic production in Britain. It allowed factories to reproduce high-quality decoration at very little cost once the copper transfer-printing plates had been engraved. The transfer-prints here show an elegant couple taking hot drinks from tea wares of the type made at Worcester. The factory's porcelain recipe included soaprock, which made its porcelain resistant to the shock of boiling water and therefore suitable for tea and coffee wares. People generally drank from handle-less tea bowls like this one during the early 1700s, but British factories were making teacups with handles by the 1740s.

Physical description

Handless cup in a deep saucer. Both cup and saucer are decorated with versions of the subject known as 'The Tea Party' from a plate by Robert Hancock; the saucer being signed with the monogram 'R.H' and the word 'Worcester' under an anchor; it shows a man and a lady sitting on a bench in a garden taking tea, with a spaniel at their foot. The cup is decorated on one side with the subject known as 'Maid and Page', also form a plate by Hancock, an don the bottom, inside, with a swan.

Place of Origin

Worcester (made)


ca. 1765 (made)


Hancock, Robert (engraver)
Worcester porcelain factory (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Steatitic soft-paste porcelain, thrown and turned, and transfer-printed in black enamel

Object history note

cf. Schneiber I, 646.

Descriptive line

'The Tea Party' cup and saucer, soft-paste porcelain, transfer-printed in black enamel, Worcester porcelain factory, England, ca. 1765

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Young, Hilary. English Porcelain, 1745-95. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1999. 229p., ill. ISBN 1851772820.
Goff, M., Goldfinch. J., Limper-Herz, K., and Peden, H. Georgians Revealed: Life, Style and the Making of Modern Britain. The British Library, London, 2013.


Soft paste porcelain; Enamel


Thrown; Turned; Transfer-printed; Glazed

Subjects depicted

Figures (representations); Tea services; Table; Dog; Bench


Black History; Ceramics; Porcelain


Ceramics Collection

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