China tea sets where to begin a collection

Look into the Royal Daulton Company
and the beautiful Royal Albert china tea sets

If you have never been seduced by a display of Royal Albert’s Old Country Roses china_tea_setteacups and teapots, and felt compelled to stop, admire, and touch one of these elegant pieces, then you simply must get out more. This delicately beautiful pattern of red, yellow, and pink roses draws you in. You can almost smell them. Their inherent charm is undoubtedly why they are such a favorite with collectors. This pattern, with its fine selection of china tea sets, saucers, tea pots, creamers, covered sugar bowls, and serving trays, is a collector’s dream. I can picture brewing loose leaf tea and serving it to friends in one of Royal Alberts china tea sets.

Introduction to Old Country Rose

Royal Albert is one of the major brands of the Royal Doulton Company, located in the United Kingdom. Royal Albert has created hundreds of designs, and has manufactured millions of quality bone china pieces since the end of the 19th century. The Old Country Roses pattern was introduced in 1962. According to the Royal Doulton Company’s web site, the pattern “… has become the world's best selling bone china tableware pattern, with more than 150 million pieces having sold since its introduction ….”

Pattern Variations

Some who are new to collecting this pattern become confused by the fact that Royal Albert has periodically introduced “daughter” patterns associated with the Old Country Roses brand. These daughter patterns are similar in style, but vary in color or shape. Most are created to commemorate the introduction of the original pattern. They have names such as, A Celebration of Old Country Roses, which was introduced in 1986; Old Country Roses Tranquil Garden, which was introduced on the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the original pattern; and Old Country Roses Casual Classics, which was introduced in 1999. The most recent variation is Old Country Roses Gold, introduced in 2007. All exhibit the elegance and charm of the original, and are eminently collectible. They are,however, not the original. Each of these variations will include beautiful tea cups and tea pots to collect and admire. By all means use your treasure china tea sets to serve tea from rather than collect dust in display cases.

All Old Country Roses pieces, and their daughter variations, are clearly marked on the underside by a back stamp. This back stamp displays an image of the Old Country Roses red, yellow, and pink floral spray. Directly below the spray, the words Old Country Roses are printed in red script curved into a shallow U shape. Below that are the words, Royal Albert Bone China, and the country of manufacture: England, Indonesia, or China. If no country is indicated, it is manufactured in Asia. Daughter patterns will show the variation’s name, and the design’s copyright date will be printed at the bottom.

Watch Out for Seconds

Not all pieces produced by Royal Albert meet their exacting standards. They have some minor, generally unnoticeable, flaw that has no effect of the piece’s durability, appearance, or usefulness. These flawed pieces, called seconds, are sold by Royal Albert at great savings. To ensure that these pieces cannot be sold as perfect, they are identified as seconds by having the back stamp permanently defaced by mechanical etching. These seconds are durable, beautiful pieces, and can be a joy to own and display; but, don’t let anyone sell you a second saying it’s just as good a perfect piece. Even if you can’t see a flaw, there is one, or Royal Albert’s quality control personnel wouldn’t have lowered its value.

Acquiring Your Pieces

china tea cup2All that remains to start collecting is to find out where to buy your china tea sets or other pieces. Obviously, because Old Country Roses is an active pattern, you can buy everything you need from the factory or from the china department of your local department store. That, however, wouldn’t satisfy the true collector who is stimulated by the search and the thrill of bartering. Make a list of the pieces that you want to acquire. Search on eBay, Craig’s List, and classified ads.

Get some exercise and wander through flea markets, yard sales, and antique shows. When you find a piece that you want, inspect it carefully for flaws. Be confident. Haggle. Enjoy the hunt.

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