This month’s museum feature is a charming 10-piece miniature tea set by Crown Staffordshire. This set includes two cup & saucer sets, a teapot and lid, a sugar bowl and lid, a creamer, and a tray, all in miniature size. Miniature versions of everyday items have been popular since the 18th century, and tea items have been especially popular miniatures to collect. Toy tea sets for children date back as far as the 16th century, and dollhouse-size tea sets like the one featured here began appearing in the 19th century (these dollhouse-size sets are commonly 1:12 scale to a standard tea set). In the 1930s, full miniature tea sets like this one were produced by a number of companies, including Shelley, Crown Staffordshire, and Wedgwood.
The story of Crown Staffordshire begins in 1833, when Thomas Green, Jr. first leased a pottery factory in Fenton, England. Green's father, Thomas Green Sr., had worked under Josiah Wedgwood's son during the latter part of the 18th century. Green followed in his father's footsteps, entering the trade around 1822, and working with various potteries before deciding to start his own company. From 1833 until his death in 1859, Green produced ornaments, toy jugs and mugs, ewers and basins, and various other china and lusterware products at the Fenton facility.
After Green's death the business was carried on by his wife, Margaret, and his four sons, under the name "M. Green & Co." After Margaret's death in 1876, the company changed its name to "T.A. & S. Green" when two of Green's sons, Thomas Allen and Spencer, bought out their brothers' shares to gain full control of the company. The name "Crown Staffordshire" first began appearing on products several years later, in 1897. The company was renamed yet again in 1903, becoming "Crown Staffordshire Porcelain Company Ltd." At this time, the company was mainly producing dinnerware, vases, utensil handles, and miniatures.
In the 1920s, the company became well known for its hand-painted flower and bird figurines. In the early half of the 20th century, the company also produced miniature tea sets for two, like the one featured here. During World War II, Crown Staffordshire contributed to the war effort by making tableware for British fighting services. The company's name was changed a final time in 1948 to "Crown Staffordshire China Company Ltd." The Green family sold the company in 1965, and it was eventually purchased by the Wedgwood Group in 1973. In 1985, the Wedgwood Group ceased using the Crown Staffordshire name on its products.
The miniature Crown Staffordshire tea set in our museum is not for sale, but we do have other Crown Staffordshire pieces available for purchase in our inventory; be sure to browse our web site. And remember that we always invite you to visit our facilities - here you'll see a stunning variety of silver, china, crystal, and collectibles. Our showroom and museum are open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm ET, 7 days (except holidays); free tours are available from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm ET, 7 days. The showroom and museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. We look forward to seeing you.