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Cups & Saucers

The nuanced nestle of a cup into its saucer is one of the simplest joys of an elegant porcelain place setting or ceramic coffee service. Though now a standard, the cup and saucer is a relatively recent creation, borne from innovation in coffee and tea drinking.

Early coffee and tea drinkers enjoyed their drink by somewhat different means. Tea drinkers typically opted for a bowl, which was very shallow in nature and was similar to today’s saucers, yet slightly deeper. Coffee was consumed from a small cylindrical cup made from metal, featuring a small handle on its side. Both methods proved problematic: the shallow tea bowl, small in part to compensate for the high cost of tea, proved easy to spill, and the coffee "cup" was often too hot to handle due to its metal exterior.

Fortunately, the rise of porcelain production in the late 18th and early 19th century led to the development of more ergonomically enjoyable drinking of both beverages with the creation of the cup and paired saucer. Added to this amplified ease of use was an ever-increasing level of elegance, with striking motifs and patterns incorporated to tie cups and saucers into larger coffee, tea, or dinner services.


Quick Facts

  • Early ceramic saucers were referred to as "coffee stands" in reference to the central depression in the saucer designed to hold the cup in place
  • The saucer increased in popularity at a slightly faster rate among tea drinkers, as it was essential not only for allowing one’s tea to cool but also in providing a place to rest a teaspoon
  • One of the most elegant tea services in recent years was a Meissen "Half-Figure" Service that appeared at a Bonham’s auction in 2012. Featuring, among other pieces, four double-handled beakers with matching saucers, the set sold for $819,360

Recommended Items at Auction

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Lote de 11 xícaras com pires em porcelana VA (22)
Nov 01, 7:00 PM WET
Lote de 11 xícaras com pires em porcelana VA (22)
by Palácio do Correio Velho
Est: €40- €80
€1407 Bids
Six teal coffee cups marked Aeyre plus six highballs marled LAV
Oct 30, 10:00 AM AEDT
Six teal coffee cups marked Aeyre plus six highballs marled LAV
by Theodore Bruce
Est: AUD30- AUD50
AUD457 Bids
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VINTAGE APPLE CHINA
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
VINTAGE APPLE CHINA
by Aether Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$65 Bids
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LONGABERGER SOUP CUPS
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
LONGABERGER SOUP CUPS
by Aether Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$94 Bids
Jade Carved Tea Pot On Stand & 2 Cups
Oct 28, 10:00 AM EDT
Jade Carved Tea Pot On Stand & 2 Cups
by Berner's Auction Gallery
Est: $10- $1,000
$44 Bids
Eight Copeland Spode Cups & Saucers with Six Cake Plates
Nov 14, 11:00 AM AEDT
Eight Copeland Spode Cups & Saucers with Six Cake Plates
by Theodore Bruce
Est: AUD100- AUD200
AUD1403 Bids
Assortment of pottery to include Dyson Studios, Sydney, approx 20cm and smaller
Oct 31, 9:30 AM AEDT
Assortment of pottery to include Dyson Studios, Sydney, approx 20cm and smaller
by Vickers & Hoad
Est: AUD20- AUD40
AUD202 Bids
Assortment of cups, saucer and plates along with Breakfast cups and saucers
Oct 31, 9:30 AM AEDT
Assortment of cups, saucer and plates along with Breakfast cups and saucers
by Vickers & Hoad
Est: AUD40- AUD60
AUD202 Bids
Ansichtentasse Godesburg.
Oct 29, 9:00 AM CEST
Ansichtentasse Godesburg.
by Auktionshaus Wendl
Est: €0- €0
€1902 Bids
SÈVRES - Cup Duke of Penthievre
Oct 28, 8:00 PM WEST
SÈVRES - Cup Duke of Penthievre
by Marques dos Santos
Est: €225- €300
€1502 Bids
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Tasse mit Untertasse, mit Deutschem Kreuz, dat. 1914-15
Oct 30, 11:00 AM CEST
Tasse mit Untertasse, mit Deutschem Kreuz, dat. 1914-15
by Auktionshalle Cuxhaven
Est: €0- €0
€301 Bid
§ Gwyn Hanssen Pigott (1935-2013), a set of four porcelain cups and saucers,
Oct 28, 10:00 AM BST
§ Gwyn Hanssen Pigott (1935-2013), a set of four porcelain cups and saucers,
by Cheffins
Est: £100- £200
£1001 Bid
Tasse mit Figurenmalerei. Nymphenburg.
Oct 29, 9:00 AM CEST
Tasse mit Figurenmalerei. Nymphenburg.
by Auktionshaus Wendl
Est: €0- €0
€2401 Bid
Tasse mit Figurenmalerei. Nymphenburg.
Oct 29, 9:00 AM CEST
Tasse mit Figurenmalerei. Nymphenburg.
by Auktionshaus Wendl
Est: €0- €0
€2401 Bid
Tasse mit Figurenmalerei. Nymphenburg.
Oct 29, 9:00 AM CEST
Tasse mit Figurenmalerei. Nymphenburg.
by Auktionshaus Wendl
Est: €0- €0
€1201 Bid
A QAJAR POLYCHROME-PAINTED ENAMELLED GILT COPPER QALYAN CUP
Oct 29, 11:00 AM BST
A QAJAR POLYCHROME-PAINTED ENAMELLED GILT COPPER QALYAN CUP
by Chiswick Auctions
Est: £200- £300
£2001 Bid
Cup and saucer, France, end of
Nov 03, 10:00 AM CET
Cup and saucer, France, end of
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€1201 Bid
A picture cup with a saucer, w
Nov 03, 10:00 AM CET
A picture cup with a saucer, w
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€1201 Bid
Five assorted designer re-useable cups marked Frank Green, Billabong etc.
Oct 30, 10:00 AM AEDT
Five assorted designer re-useable cups marked Frank Green, Billabong etc.
by Theodore Bruce
Est: AUD30- AUD50
AUD151 Bid
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4x Espresso-Tassen von Goebel, Artis Orbis
Oct 30, 11:00 AM CEST
4x Espresso-Tassen von Goebel, Artis Orbis
by Auktionshalle Cuxhaven
Est: €0- €0
€51 Bid
7 Mokkatassen.
Oct 29, 9:00 AM CEST
7 Mokkatassen.
by Auktionshaus Wendl
Est: €0- €0
€201 Bid
Vintage Napco Booze Hound Cup Set
Oct 30, 10:00 AM MST
Vintage Napco Booze Hound Cup Set
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Cups & Saucers


Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Auktionshaus Wendl

Auktionshaus Wendl

Helios Auctions

Helios Auctions

Historia Auktionshaus

Historia Auktionshaus