Old Royal Cup and Saucer

I have become a person who collects teacups. I found a pretty vintage teacup. And then another. And now I have a collection of five with the expectation there will be more. I enjoy tea … I suppose it is only natural that I should start collecting teacups.

Most recently, I acquired a beautiful Old Royal cup and saucer pairing. I love the use of red violet and black against the white bone china and the gold edging gives it just a little glam. The handle, too, has an interesting shape. I’m sure there’s a term the precisely describe the shape, but I won’t know it until my Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Teacups interlibrary loan comes in.

Old royal teacup, red violet wheat and black grass
Love the use of red violet and black. It feels very contemporary.

I was able to do a some research into the backstamp (the manufacturer’s mark on the back of the cup and saucer) and found out a little bit about Old Royal, which I’m going to put down here, so I can come back to it later and add more information, if I find any.

Thomas Cooper and Sampson Smith produced china ornaments and fancy figures at their works, Cooper & Smith, in Longton, Staffordshire between 1850 and 1851. In 1851, the partnership was dissolved and the two continued independently.

In 1861, Census records show Sampson Smith as a manufacturer of earthenware (dogs, jugs, and figures) and china in Longton, employing some 200 persons.

While Smith died in 1878, the company remained active, adding chinaware to its range of goods and, in the 1920s, began to promote its wares as Wetley China, using such terms as “Old Royal China” and “Wetley Rose.” The name Wetley China was used from 1923 to 1941. When exactly Old Royal was in use, I cannot say.

Bottom of a teacup displaying the Old Royal Bone Chine backstamp
Great combination of red violet and green in the backstamp.

In 1939, Sampson Smith Ltd was purchased by Barker Bros and, from 1941 to 1945, production of the two firms was concentrated at the Barker Bros factory, also in Longton.

In 1956, Barker Bros and its subsidiary Sampson Smith Ltd became part of the Alfred Clough group, but production under the Barker Bros and Sampson Smith Ltd names continued through the 1960s, as far as I can tell.

Of pattern names, I know nothing.

I guess this is why smart people collect major manufactures like Royal Doulton. There’s so much material about Royal Doulton available (and so many patterns to collect).