LUXURIOUS Royal Crown Derby for Tiffany & Co loving cup c.1891. This gorgeous antique cup makes a stunning center piece and can be viewed from all sides. It holds a plant pot that is 5"W across the top x 4"H (see jasmine in last picture). Very light porcelain in cobalt blue and white is decorated with raised and chased foliate gold borders and heavily gilded throughout. Substantial 24 carat gold on large handles. The finely hand painted reserves on front and back contain floral sprays of roses, forget-me-nots and pink buttons. The artist creates both depth and translucency, so appropriate for the medium of porcelain.
When this piece was made in 1891 Queen Victoria had just granted the Royal Warrant to this famous Derby company and the artists were meeting the most exacting standards, often in anonymity. Some artists undertook both the paining and gilding and if that is true of this piece the most likely candidate is Fred Williams. The RCD Pattern Book, May 16 1892, #3895 describes a piece: "flower centre with raised and chased gilding by Williams" and many similar patterns. Fred Williams sometimes signed his work with a monogram but not here. The gilding is as striking as the painting; the entire gold surround of each cartouche is burnished and chased in the finest detail. The scrolls on the 1.5" upper border also contain raised gold in a jewelled effect. The finishing touch from the expert gilder was a dozen tiny gold floral sprays scattered over the cobalt enamelling. Another kind of signature. Perfect! This piece is described in the pattern book as 'medium' size but please notice how large it actually is; Victorians did things on a much grander scale than we do today. Measures 5.5"H x 5.5"W (10" handle-to handle). This two-handled vessel is RCD shape 1404.
The exterior of this cup is in very good condition with minor rubbing on handles. Gilding on the bottom edge is worn with age. The interior is stained at the bottom and the upper edge gilding is faded. (The interior had formerly been sprayed to hide the stains and this is now mostly removed.) One old 1/2" stable hairline to upper inside rim. Two shallow 1/4" chips on the underside edge. These faults are not visible when this piece is displayed at eye height or is filled with flowers. This loving cup has imperfections - don't we all, especially when it comes to love?
It would have taken a team of skilled artisans days to complete a piece of this quality. It exemplifies the British dominance in porcelain manufacture in the late 19C that inspired Royalty and even the Prime Minister. On December 22 1883 the Liberal Working Men of Derby presented the Rt. Hon. W. E. Gladstone, M.P. with his famous dessert service and his public response contained these words: "For very many years I have had a great love of porcelain. I think . . . it is a branch of art in which the principles of fine arts are applied to an industrial purpose". This loving cup exemplifies his words and would grace any room.
REFERENCE: 'Royal Crown Derby' by John Twitchett and Betty Bailey. 1976 Ed.
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ROYAL CROWN DERBY Tiffany flower holder or centerpiece 1891