Sold Ceramics - Sold Shipwreck Porcelains - The Nanking Cargo, 1752 - Tea, Coffee and Chocolate wares - Page 1
Coffee cup and saucer
Provenance: The Nanking Cargo sale, Christie's Amsterdam, 28 April - 2 May 1986
Height of coffee cup 44 mm (1.73 inch), diameter of rim 83 mm (2.27 inch), diameter of footring 34 mm (1.34 inch), weight 111 grams (3.92 ounce (oz.))
Height of saucer 24 mm (0.94 inch), diameter of rim 132 mm (5.20 inch), diameter of footring 75 mm (2.95 inch), weight 61 grams (2.15 ounce (oz.))
Coffee cup and saucer on footring, straight rims. Batavia Brown covered with underglaze dark brown and underglaze-blue with a small open pavilion perched on a promontory within overhanging wintery foliage and evergreens, a wide river meandering past a similar retreat on an outcrop in the right background. The reverse is covered in underglaze dark brown. The teacup is decorated en suite. On the bases the original circular paper Christie's The Nanking Cargo sale lot 5612 labels proving they have been one of 30 similar teacups and saucers sold in lot 5612. (Amsterdam 1986, p.256)
The design on this coffee cup and saucer is known as the 'Batavian Pavilion' pattern. In total 1,674 coffee cups and saucers and 240 saucers without coffee cups with the 'Batavian Pavilion' pattern were sold divided over the lots: 5600-5638. (Amsterdam 1986, pp.256-258)
The market in the Netherlands for coffee- and tea cups and saucers seemed insatiable. Annually some 1000,000 cups and saucers arrive on each ship. The difference between a coffee cup and a tea cup was not yet clearly defined up till now, but Hatcher's find has made things easier. They are always cups without handles. The coffee cup is a little bigger and wider, on average with a diameter of 85 mm (3.35 inch) and a height of 45 mm (1.77 inch). Ordinary tea cups measure 75 mm (2.95 inch) diameter and 35 mm (1.38 inch) height, small tea cups 60 mm (2.36 inch) diameter and 33 mm (1.30 inch) height. The orders of the previous years show that the type with an even brown glaze on the outside is considered to be a coffee cup, for this type hardly occurs under the heading tea cup, or in small quantities only. This fits well with the recovered cargo: most brown cups are large, only one type is smaller and might have been a tea cup. According to the archives coffee- and tea cups with handles only became fashionable after 1760. (Jörg 1986/1. p.67).
In total eight different designs on tea- and coffee cups and saucers were discoverd. decorated in underglaze blue, Batavia Brown covered with underglaze dark brown and underglaze-blue and Chinese Imari.
Besides this 'Batavian Pavilion' pattern for examples of four of the other eight, previously sold, designs please see:
the 'Batavian Bamboo and Peony' pattern.
the 'Pagoda Riverscape' pattern in underglaze blue
the 'Blue Pine' pattern in underglaze blue
the 'Imari Pavilion' pattern
In the Netherlands, porcelain decorated in this type of underglaze brown has historically been called "Batavia Brown" or "Capucijnergoed" ("Chick-pea ware", after the legume). The first name may have been coined because most goods exported to The Netherlands from the East were sent via Batavia and has nothing to do with a Batavian production or decoration, It is a very common type with the decoration usually contained within medallions. Occasionally, a gold decoration has been painted on the brown glaze. The brown colour is achieved by using iron oxide as a pigment, which like underglaze blue, needs to be fired at high temperatures. Considerable quantities were exported to the Western and Inter-Asian markets from c.1700. The pieces are rarely refined and can be considered as articles for everyday use by the middle-classes. (Jörg 2002/2, p.120)
For an identically shaped, sized and decorated coffe cup and saucer, please see:
- The Choice of the Private Trader. The Private Market in Chinese Export Porcelain illustrated from the Hodroff Collection, (D.S. Howard, Zwemmer, London, 1994), p.181, cat. 207.
Saucer: A frit to the footring.