Antique Demitasse Tea Sets
A demitasse tea set is a selection of small cups used to serve tea.
History & Description
The word is derived from the French for “half cup”, which is appropriate given that demitasse cups are about half the size of a regularly coffee cup. It is believed that they were first introduced in France; however, there is evidence that porcelain manufacturers throughout Europe and in some parts of Asia had been producing these diminutive cups for at least two centuries.
They are typically made from fine china, porcelain or silver and are usually accompanied by a matching saucer. Many antique versions are covered with elaborate patterns and decoration and some consist of a glass cup set into a metal frame.
Guide for collectors
Antique demitasse tea sets are a firm favourite among coffee and tea cup collectors and these dainty decorated cups can be found in a myriad styles and encompassing many different artistic periods. The most popular examples are those made by renowned fine china or silver companies, such as Tiffany & Co., Limoges, Gorham Mfg. Co., Rosenthal and ceramic firms from Staffordshire, England.
Antique demitasse tea sets are frequently sold through both national and international auction houses.
Notable auction sales
On May 29th 2002 at Christie’s in New York, a three-piece silver tea set made by Tiffany & Co., circa 1930s, realised a price of $33,460.
On January 23rd 2009 at Sotheby’s in New York, a 34-piece silver tea set made by Gorham Mfg. Co., circa 1920s, realised a price of $28,750.
On June 16th 1999 at Christie’s in New York, a set of 16 silver cups and saucers made by Gorham Mfg. Co., circa 1917, realised a price of $18,400.
On January 15th 2005 at Skinner in Massachusetts, Massachusetts, a hand painted porcelain tea set made by Royal Worchester, circa 1901, realised a price of $16,000.