The tea service from which this set comes was purchased by chinaman Joseph Cooper at the sale of the remaining effects of the Bristol factory, and sold by him to Muster Master General Butts, in whose family it remained for many years. In the 1920s it was owned by Mrs. Colville Hyde. There was a cup and saucer from this service exhibited in the Bristol Porcelain Bicentenary Exhibition, 1770-1970, no 98b, along with the teapot and cover from the same service (now in the Plymouth City Art Gallery collection). According to the exhibition catalogue, F. Severne Mackenna believed this service to be the one in the Christie's Bristol China Manufactory sale of 28 February to 1 March 1780, lot 20, which was sold to Muster Master General Butts. From “Old Bristol Potteries”: “I have lately (March, 1920) met with the owner of a very highly ornamental tea set made by Champion, and offered for sale by Messrs. Christie and Ansell at their auction rooms in London on February 28th and 29th and March 1st, 1780, when a large portion of the remaining stock of the pottery was offered. The sale catalogue was reprinted in Dr. Oxford's preface to Mr. Albert Amor's catalogue of the Trapnell Collection, 1912. Lot 20, on the third day, is described as: ‘A very rich tea set, wheat sheaf and crimson bands. 41 pieces, £7 7s. Cooper.’ The [1920] owner of this tea set, Mrs. Colville Hyde, asked my opinion as to a name written upon the back of one of the saucers, which appeared to have a shiny effect, like lustrous iron-mold. It was thought to be that of Champion, but on close inspection it turned out to be Atkinson. . . . On being shown the description of Lot 20 in the sale of 1780, Mrs. Hyde said that she remembered the name in connection with many pictures and other objects of art, which were originally in the collection of Thomas Butts, Muster-Master-General (the friend and patron of the great poet-painter William Blake). It also seems, from a diary in her possession, that General Butts bought many things through Joseph Cooper, of ‘Noble Street, near Foster Lane, London,’ whose trade card, with this address, is pasted on the back of some pictures (paintings) purchased from or through him. The tea service has remained in the hands of General Butts’s descendants until the present time. There is a blue cross and the figure 10, either in gold or in blue, upon most of the pieces; the teapot, cream jug, sugar basin and some of the teacups are unmarked. Coffee cups and saucers have been made to match the set in soft paste porcelain, believed by Mr. Dyson Perrins, Managing Director of the Royal Worcester Porcelain Company, to be either of the Flight period after 1783, or perhaps of the late Wall period, but doubtless made some years after the original tea set was offered for sale. The details of the pattern are as follows: The top rims of the cups and saucers, basins, etc., have a gold gadrooned bordering, below which they are encircled by a band of light and dark crimson, entwined with a garland of single wheat ears in gold, with green leaves. A similar band is at the bottom of each piece, and between the two are bows and festoons of ribbon, each festoon suspending a little gold wheat sheaf composed of four or five heads of wheat. The ribbon depends from a gold band, an eighth of an inch wide, half the width of this band being decorated with a scroll. . . . It is very seldom that sets of ware can be traced as to ownership from the factory down to the present-day owner, as this can. It is probable that the numbers on the backs of the various articles, which are generally placed above a cross (the Bristol mark) refer to the painters, each of whom probably identified himself in this way, according to the order in which they were employed. Bone is known to have been using the number 1, Stephens is credited with the number 2, and so on; but Mrs. Colville Hyde's tea set with the advanced number 10 makes it rather a puzzle as to whom this number belonged.” Another cup and saucer is illustrated in Mackenna’s book on Bristol porcelain, figure 81, where he states that the design of the decoration is original to the Bristol factory. The saucer is five and one-eighth inches across. The set is in excellent condition except for a next-to-invisible short hairline in the well of the bowl.

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Saucers, Cups

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Bristol Cup & Saucer from the Butts Service C1780.


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