Rare Coffee Cup and Saucer, Worcester, soft paste porcelain, c.1754-55


These early pieces, the cup with an S-shaped scroll handle, are decorated with the Red Bull pattern, one of the first transfer-printed designs to be used at Worcester.

It is rare to find early octagonal teawares decorated with this pattern.

The pattern depicts a group of Chinese country folk with two bulls, one of which is of course red, as the name suggests. The group appears to be sheltering beneath a large overhanging rock and a gnarled tree, whilst the sun, represented by a red disk, beats down. The black printed outline is delicately picked out in enamel colours, whilst the trellis and demi-flower head border is painted entirely by hand.

In her paper The Origin of some Chinese Designs used on Early Worcester (ECC Transactions, vol. 12, no. 3, 1986), Zorka Hodgson considers this pattern in relation to the work of the Ming artist Ding Yunpeng (1547-1628), particularly as he favoured the use of red in his paintings (see the illustration below).


Provenance: The Liane Richards Collection.

Condition: Excellent - no damage or restoration. Typical of wares from the earliest years of the factory, there are one or two tiny pinholes to the cup, from firing. The printed and enamelled decoration is in excellent order with only very slight wear in places.

Dimensions: Saucer - Diameter 11.3 cm; Cup - Height 5.1 cm

Worcester Porcelain 1751-1790: The Zorensky Collection, Simon Spero & John Sandon (Antique Collectors' Club, 1996).


Click on thumbnail above to see larger image

Above, Sweeping the White Elephant, Ding Yunpeng