Antique and vintage tea trolleys
Antique and vintage tea trolleys are castor- or wheel-mounted collectibles, designed to convey crockery, beverages and food. They are most often employed during afternoon tea.
Tea trolleys are most commonly found in Britain, due to the penchant among its inhabitants for taking afternoon tea.
Collectible tea trolleys are most often made from wood or metal, sometimes incorporating glass shelves.
Antique or vintage?
Tea trolleys produced more than 100 years ago are classed as “antique” according to the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act’s definition.
“Vintage” refers to pieces manufactured within the last 100 years and can include items made as recently as the 1980s.
Finnish designer Alvar Aalto is one of the most celebrated makers of vintage tea trolleys. His uniquely styled pieces can sell for thousands of dollars.
How much are antique and vintage tea trolleys worth?
Tea trolleys produced by famous 20th designers have sold for up to $13,000 in the past. Antique pieces can also go for thousands of dollars.
Notable sales of antique and vintage tea trolleys
A 1950 Gio Ponti tea trolley, thought to have been produced for the company by cabinet maker Giordano Chiesa, sold for £2,640 at Christie’s London in March 2006.
A circa 1938 wooden tea trolley, designed by Alvar Aalto, with distinctive wheels, made $8,500 at a Phillips de Pury auction in December 2005.
A Persian walnut tea trolley, designed by George Nakashima, sold for $13,000 at a Rago auction in April 2005.
An Edwardian mahogany tea trolley achieved $3,600 at a Christie’s New York auction in January 2005.
Main article: Antiques