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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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Hermes French Porcelain La Siesta Coffee Cup SET 4
Nov 30, 11:00 AM EST
Hermes French Porcelain La Siesta Coffee Cup SET 4
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$2755 Bids
A 19th C Cup and Saucer with Floral encrusted decoration H 7cm W 20cm
Dec 11, 12:00 PM AEDT
A 19th C Cup and Saucer with Floral encrusted decoration H 7cm W 20cm
by Christian McCann Auctions
Est: AUD200- AUD300
AUD1803 Bids
Set of 4 Tuscan Harlequin Bone China Trios - various colours on floral pink ground with gilt highlights.
Nov 30, 7:00 PM AEDT
Set of 4 Tuscan Harlequin Bone China Trios - various colours on floral pink ground with gilt highlights.
by Bargain Hunt Auctions
Est: AUD0- AUD0
AUD353 Bids
A polychrome porcelain saucer painted with insects among flower blossom
Dec 03, 6:00 PM ICT
A polychrome porcelain saucer painted with insects among flower blossom
by RCB Auctions
Est: ฿1,000- ฿3,000
฿2,0002 Bids
A small polychrome porcelain saucer painted with birds perched on floral branches
Dec 03, 6:00 PM ICT
A small polychrome porcelain saucer painted with birds perched on floral branches
by RCB Auctions
Est: ฿1,000- ฿2,000
฿2,0002 Bids
Thomas Kinkade Moonlight Cottage Cup & Saucer
Dec 01, 10:00 AM EST
Thomas Kinkade Moonlight Cottage Cup & Saucer
by Berner's Auction Gallery
Est: $10- $1,000
$11 Bid
TIFFANY Grosvenor Gilt Porcelain Demitasse 16
Dec 21, 10:00 AM EST
TIFFANY Grosvenor Gilt Porcelain Demitasse 16
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc.
Est: $100- $300
$11 Bid
Porcelain CUP decorated with monkeys and leop
Dec 03, 2:00 PM CET
Porcelain CUP decorated with monkeys and leop
by FW Auction
Est: €1,000- €1,500
€1,0001 Bid
A King George V & Queen Mary Silver Jubilee Commemorative Cup & Saucer, 1935
Nov 30, 6:00 PM AEDT
A King George V & Queen Mary Silver Jubilee Commemorative Cup & Saucer, 1935
by Theodore Bruce
Est: AUD40- AUD80
AUD301 Bid
A King Edward VIII Coronation Commemorative Cup & Saucer, 12th May 1937, Burgess Ware
Nov 30, 6:00 PM AEDT
A King Edward VIII Coronation Commemorative Cup & Saucer, 12th May 1937, Burgess Ware
by Theodore Bruce
Est: AUD60- AUD120
AUD451 Bid
kitchen ware
Nov 30, 6:00 PM EST
kitchen ware
by BLG Auction Services
Est: $0- $0
$20 Bids
German Marie Louis Porcelain Demitasse & Saucer
Dec 04, 10:00 AM PST
German Marie Louis Porcelain Demitasse & Saucer
by Taylor & Harris
Est: $200- $300
$1800 Bids
Vintage Lot of 2 Paul Revere's Ride Iro-Tan Ware Iroquois Tea Cup, Saucer & Side Bowl Sets
Dec 12, 6:00 PM EST
Vintage Lot of 2 Paul Revere's Ride Iro-Tan Ware Iroquois Tea Cup, Saucer & Side Bowl Sets
by One Source Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$150 Bids
Freundschaftstasse
Dec 02, 10:00 AM CET
Freundschaftstasse
by Kunstauktionshaus Schloss Ahlden
Est: €500- €1,000
€5000 Bids
Koppchen mit Fels- und Vogeldekor
Dec 04, 10:00 AM CET
Koppchen mit Fels- und Vogeldekor
by Kunstauktionshaus Schloss Ahlden
Est: €330- €660
€3300 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Cups & Saucers


Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Lion and Unicorn

Lion and Unicorn

Im Kinsky

Im Kinsky

Schuler Auktionen

Schuler Auktionen