'Henry Cole Tea Service' thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

'Henry Cole Tea Service'

Teapot
1846 (designed (process)), 1846 - 1890 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Henry Cole, first director of the South Kensington Museum and an early campaigner for the improvement of British Design, designed the tea service, to which this teapot belongs, under the assumed name of Felix Summerly. Cole's aim was 'to obtain as much beauty and ornament as is comensurate with cheapness'. The design was based upon historical precedents combined with a concern for manufacturing techniques and utility. Cole paid particular attention to the application of ornament so that it did not interfere with the simplicity of outline of his design. The handles, in the form of vines, were derived from exmples of Greek earthenware in the British Museum, this form of ornament was simple and cheap to produce and did not in any way inhibit the function of the object. The service was awarded a silver medal by the Society of Arts, admired by the Prince Consort and sold in large numbers. This success encouraged Cole to found Summerly's Art Manufactures in order to commission designs for functional and attractive household objects from well-known artists for commercial production.


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

  • Teapot
  • Cover
Additional Titles
  • 'Oxford' (manufacturer's title)
  • 'FS' (manufacturer's title)
Materials and Techniques
Bone china, with slip-cast body and spout, and press-moulded handle, painted in enamels
Brief Description
Porcelain teapot, decorated with blue, green and red enamel lines at the shoulder, rim, spout, base and handle. British (Stoke-on-Trent), 1846-1890. Part of a service designed by Henry Cole for the Society of Arts in 1846 and manufactured by Minton's.
Physical Description
Rounded body, with cylindrical top. Spout in the form of a mediaeval lion, handle modelled with a goat's head, the recessed lid with a ram's head knob. Embellished with leaves at the base of the spout. Decorated with blue, green and red enamel lines at shoulder, rim, spout base and handle and outlining the leaves.
Dimensions
  • Height: 15.4cm
  • Including spout and handle length: 20.4cm
  • Width: 14.6cm
height given is for teapot with cover on
Marks and Inscriptions
  • '7692' in magenta (UNKNOWN; painting (image-making); Minton; 1846 - 1890)
  • 'Society of Arts Prize Pattern Minton & Co. Staffordshire' within a buckled belt around 'FS [in monogram] 1846 invt.' in reddish brown. (Makers marks; UNKNOWN; printing; Minton; 1846 - 1890)
Object history
Historical significance: Henry Cole, first director of the South Kensington Museum and an early campaigner for the improvement of British Design, designed the tea service under the assumed name of Felix Summerly. Cole's aim was 'to obtain as much beauty and ornament as is comensurate with cheapness'. The design was based upon historical precedents combined with a concern for manufacturing techniques and utility. Cole paid particular attention to the application of ornament so that it did not interfere with the simplicity of outline of his design. The handles, in the form of vines, were derived from exmples of Greek earthenware in the British Museum, this form of ornament was simple and cheap to produce and did not in any way inhibit the function of the object. The service was awarded a silver medal by the Society of Arts, admired by the Prince Consort and sold in large numbers. This success encouraged Cole to found Summerly's Art Manufactures in order to commission designs for functional and attractive household objects from well-known artists for commercial production.
Historical context
Although it is said that the Henry Cole Tea Service was produced in large numbers into the 1890s this seems to refer only to the cups and saucers, as very few teapots survive.
Summary
Henry Cole, first director of the South Kensington Museum and an early campaigner for the improvement of British Design, designed the tea service, to which this teapot belongs, under the assumed name of Felix Summerly. Cole's aim was 'to obtain as much beauty and ornament as is comensurate with cheapness'. The design was based upon historical precedents combined with a concern for manufacturing techniques and utility. Cole paid particular attention to the application of ornament so that it did not interfere with the simplicity of outline of his design. The handles, in the form of vines, were derived from exmples of Greek earthenware in the British Museum, this form of ornament was simple and cheap to produce and did not in any way inhibit the function of the object. The service was awarded a silver medal by the Society of Arts, admired by the Prince Consort and sold in large numbers. This success encouraged Cole to found Summerly's Art Manufactures in order to commission designs for functional and attractive household objects from well-known artists for commercial production.
Associated Objects
Bibliographic References
  • Atterbury, Paul and Maureen Batkin. The Dictionary of Minton. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club, 1990. pp.201, 260.
  • Jones, Joan. Minton: The First Two Hundred Years of Design and Production. Shrewsbury: Swan Hill Press, 1993. pp.43-48, 75.
  • Lovett, Gina.The Perfect Place to Grow: 175 Years of the Royal College of Art. London: Royal College of Art, 2012. ISBN978-1-907342-51-6
Collection
Accession Number
C.262:1, 2-1993

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdJune 23, 1998
Record URL