Collecting Antique & Vintage Chintz Tea Cups

Updated on April 19, 2018
MrsPotts profile image

I live in California and enjoy cooking, gardening, art, & reading good books. I especially love the English tea time tradition!

The Charm of Antique Tea Cups

We recently acquired an original Royal Winton Beeston Chintz Tea Cup for our store's vintage and antique chintz collection. It was so strikingly beautiful! I never cease to be amazed at the skill and the artistry of those long ago hands that created such charming pieces. And with each new tea cup I find myself wondering...what have they been witness to? What joys celebrated? What sorrows comforted? What frustrations soothed? What would they say if they could talk?

What is English Chintz?

An all over, tightly grouped, multi-colored pattern, usually floral in nature.

Royal Winton Summertime Chintz Tea Cup

Thoughts on Collecting Old Chintz Tea Cups

Collecting antique chintz tea cups, or anything vintage, is always an adventure. Sometimes you'll find a bit of history or a rare treasure. Other times, you'll find a common piece that you really love. With chintz tea cups, there are so many patterns and manufacturers from which to choose. So, how do you determine what to collect?

Some people collect chintz made in specific regions such as England or Japan. Others collect specific manufacturers such as Royal Winton, Shelley, Lefton or Ardalt. Some collect a specific pattern or stay within certain color/flower themes. So look around on the internet or read some books such as Chintz Ceramics by Jo Anne Walsh. Decide what appeals to you and what doesn't. However, our best recommendation is choose tea cups you love. This is our top deciding factor in acquiring new pieces and we offer the following simple guidelines for your consideration.

1. First and most important, choose what you really love and will still enjoy 10-20 years from now.

2. Don't collect for value or profit. Chintz tea cups or anything vintage are like fine art. It will only be as valuable as the consumer demand for it. A tea cup purchased for little money may never be worth much except to you or it may someday be valuable to collectors. Conversely, a tea cup in high demand and highly priced may eventually lose value if the demand for it goes down. So again, buy what you love.

3. Finally, make memories with your collection. It's easy with tea cups! Make sure you have tea parties with your collection: big, small or even just you. Celebrate joys, comfort sorrows, sooth frustrations, share your life and enjoy your tea cups.

I promise...they're not saying a word!

Good Resources for Collectors

If you're serious about getting into chintz, I recommend The Charlton Standard Catalogue of Chintz, which is a great book for beginners. This excellent reference deals with English chintz manufacturers. It gives some very nice history along with identification of several chintz patterns, backstamps and shapes. As with other references, any valuations should be weighed against the fluidity of the market, which is influenced by demand and availability.

I also recommend the Shelley Chintz Reference Book. This is a comprehensive reference on chintz patterns, shapes and rough dates of production. Extremely helpful and lovely to browse! It also includes a list of resources for further research.

A Note on Collecting Antique & Vintage Chintz Tea Cups on eBay

If you already have a collection or you're looking to start one, eBay is the universal garage sale and a good place to look. It can be a great resource for adding to your collection, but you can end up with both good deals and duds. Know what you're purchasing, be careful who you buy from.

Shelley CountrySide Chintz Tea Cup

Shelley CountrySide Chintz Tea Cup & Saucer
Shelley CountrySide Chintz Tea Cup & Saucer

Wileman Foley Green Ivy Demitasse Cup & Saucer

Wileman Foley Ivy Cup & Saucer
Wileman Foley Ivy Cup & Saucer

The Wileman Shelley Pottery

In a nod to all those wonderful & dedicated Shelley collectors, I'm including a history of the Wileman Shelley pottery. The Shelley pottery was prolific in producing a large variety of very fine patterns in fine bone china. As the Shelley Pottery, it operated from 1925 to the late 1960s. However, the pottery got its start under Henry Wileman. Around 1860, he was producing earthenware products at the Foley pottery in Staffordshire, England. He started a second pottery for the production of fine china which became the Shelley pottery.

The Shelley name comes from Joseph Shelley who joined the Wileman family as a salesperson. In 1870, Joseph became a partner with James Wileman, Henry's son, in Wileman & Company. James ran the original earthenware pottery and Joseph focused on the fine china pottery. Joseph Shelley worked hard to produced the finest quality china and expand foreign export. His son, Percy, joined the business in 1881.

Percy Shelley brought in top artists and litho designers thereby improving the appearance of the fine china wares. He was so successful that the reputation and demand for Shelley wares grew both at home and abroad. Both Wileman and Shelley wares are still avidly collected today and the value of many patterns remains high.

Upon the death of his father, Percy took full control of the pottery and ran the company for about 50 years. Around 1910, he became involved in a legal battle over the name "Foley", the name of a pottery region. After losing, he renamed his pottery Shelley around 1925. Thus the Shelley brand was born.

As is true of other major English chintz manufacturers, production and creativity was greatest from the 1920's through the 1950's with a brief drop in the years surrounding World War II. In 1966, the company was sold to Allied Potteries.

Wileman Shelley collectors have at least three collector's clubs accessible online with a wealth of informaiton on history, shapes, patterns and backstamps.

Online Club Sites:

Australasian Shelley Collector's Club

The Shelley Group

National Shelley China Club

Royal Winton Welbeck Chintz Tea Cup, Saucer, Plate Trio

Royal Winton Julia Chintz Closeup

Royal Winton Julia Chintz
Royal Winton Julia Chintz

The Grimwade Brothers Pottery

Home of Royal Winton Chintz

One of the most successful chintz producing potteries, Grimwade Brothers, began in 1885 at the Winton Pottery, Stock-on-Trent when Leonard Grimwade invited his older brother Sidney to join his manufacture business. Sidney was a potter, however, it appears that Leonard was the enterprising force behind the prosperity of Grimwade Brothers. He was described by business associates and employees alike as a man of vision, energy and generosity.

His company grew quickly receiving patents for a number of innovative products including the Paragon coffee pot with a removable strainer, a Safety Milk Bowl and a Quick-Cooker Bowl. Earthenware for the kitchen, toiletry, hospital, nursery and table was produced by the company. The chintz ware for which the company is well know may have been produced as early as 1913 in more traditional patterns such as Jacobean ware, Hampton chintz and Spode Chintz. These patterns were large and widely spaced.

Today, we generally associate chintz with smaller closely packed patterns. The first chintz of this nature produced by Grimwades was Paisley in 1923. However, the pottery's first major success with a "modern" chintz pattern was the design Marguerite in 1928. This pattern is said to have been inspired by a design Mrs. Minnie Grimwade was working on a cushion at the time. The success of Marguerite was followed by numerous new chintz patterns during the next 20+ years. Some patterns remained proprietary to Grimwade such as Julia and Welbeck, while others were sold for use by other potteries such as Rose Du Barry.

Although Leonard Grimwade died unexpectedly in 1931, his company florished for many years. By the 1960s, due to a number of factors, the market for chintz ware had dropped off. The Grimwade company was sold to Howard Potteries in 1964 with the Royal Winton trade name kept intact. Various company buyouts proceeded over the years with the Royal Winton name still remaining. As far as we know, the latest company to trade as Royal Winton is still producing chintz ware. There are 12 patterns available with some of the most popular original chintz designs reintroduced in the 1990s.

Royal Winton chintz continues to be a favorite with collectors. Listed below are some excellent resources available for those who wish to explore the rich history of Royal Winton.

The above brief summary was gleaned from Collecting Royal Winton Chintz by Muriel M. Miller, Francis Joseph Publications 1996 which is available on Amazon below.

Grimwades Altlas Early Fernese Chintz Tea Cup

Old Royal Lorna Doone Chintz Tea Cup, Saucer, Plate Trio

Royal Winton Joyce Lynn ChintzTea Cup

Chintz collectors are a passionate group! - Here's a chance to sound off on your favorite pottery.

Who's your favorite vintage chintz pottery?

See results

How To Care For Antique China from Eron Johnson Antiques

Questions & Answers

    Do you have an antique tea cup story? A favorite teacup? A question? Share it with us!

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      • profile image

        Mrs. Edwards 

        14 months ago

        I was given a teapot with the mark on the bottom which reads Chintz

        Staffordshire England. I'm wondering how to determine if it contains lead. Any ideas?

      • MrsPotts profile imageAUTHOR


        4 years ago

        There are various resources for valuing china. We use online appraisers. You might get an idea of value from replacement china sites as well. However, the absence of your piece does not mean it is rare or valuable, only that the company does not have any in stock. Remember that any collection will be as valuble as dictated by supply and demand. We always recommend that you collect what you love and don't worry about the value.

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        I have many tea cups and saucers from my Great Grandmother and Grandmother but have no idea to find out what they are worth. Is there a reputable place to look? Thanks

      • Elaine Chen profile image

        Elaine Chen 

        6 years ago

        I like the chintz tea cups but i not yet own any

      • profile image


        7 years ago

        Great lens, I love it!

      • TreasuresBrenda profile image

        Treasures By Brenda 

        7 years ago from Canada

        I love chintz but don't own any, which is kind of surprising.

      • MrsPotts profile imageAUTHOR


        7 years ago

        @BarbRad: What a delight! Please let me know if I can help and I hope you're making lovely memories with them. Thank you for visiting!

      • BarbRad profile image

        Barbara Radisavljevic 

        7 years ago from Templeton, CA

        I inherited a lot of these cup and saucer sets. I din't have room to keep many of them, so I kept only the ones I loved most. I will have to use some of your suggested resources to find out more about them.

      • MrsPotts profile imageAUTHOR


        7 years ago

        Thank you! I'll be adding information about some of the well known English potteries along with other pictures. I appreciate your visit!

      • sukkran trichy profile image

        sukkran trichy 

        7 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

        wow. lovely designs and wonderful collection. very attractive antique tea cups.

      • agoofyidea profile image


        7 years ago

        Gorgeous pieces. Nice lens.

      • MrsPotts profile imageAUTHOR


        8 years ago

        @don2fuentes: Thank you! I appreciate the encouragement and advise.

      • don2fuentes profile image


        8 years ago

        nice pieces Mrs. Potts. I guess a little history would go beautifully. Collectors will be eyeing this lens when you place more pieces and more history.

      • MrsPotts profile imageAUTHOR


        8 years ago

        @Ramkitten2000: What a pleasant surprise! Let me know if I can help you determine what's been passed down and thank you for the feedback. :-)

      • Ramkitten2000 profile image

        Deb Kingsbury 

        8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

        Beautiful! You know, I just went to look in the hutch, and I have what I think is some of this type of pottery, which came from my grandparents house and I'm sure where before that. Now you've got me wondering about it. My parents had it in their hutch (which is now my hutch), but I honestly never gave it much thought until now.


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