Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vintage Tea Set

I think the porcelain gods were with me last weekend. While poking around one of those "stuffed to rafters" vintage shops in upstate NY, this relatively pristine tea set was found in the back next to some Bakelite bracelets and a couple of tarnished tins. For an astonishingly small sum (I tried to hide my giddiness in front of the proprietor) I was able to take a little bit of history home.

I don't have Michael's eye when it comes to dating old teaware but I had no problem figuring out the age when I turned the pieces over:
While a "Made in OCCUPIED Japan" stamp is pretty obnoxious reminder of a terrible time with bad memories for many, it's useful as a "time stamp" that tells me the items were made between 1945 - 1952. Right after WWII, during the several years Japan was under US control.

Made for export, the tea set seems to be going through a little identity crisis. The teapot's round shape and spout has a Western feel but then it's paired with the traditional bamboo handle. I find it beautiful, right down to it's rusted metal hooks.
It's well made with nice thin walls, there's even a built in strainer for the loose tea leaves.

I was more attracted to the covered cups than the teapot. There were only two that were found but the set may have originally come with more. Still, I was pretty pleased to find both with their lids and only some minor damage to the rims.
The artwork is simple on both cups and teapot. The painting of the horse is a little on the cartoonish side but I find a childish grace to the effort. The lids on the cups is slightly larger than the one for the teapot. The cup itself has a nice flare to the rim and it rests perfectly against my bottom lip. The striped foot adds elegance to the wide body and from above the teacup seems to float above the table.
I hope this has encouraged you to go and look for your own lucky finds. Maybe we'll cross paths at the next flea market...