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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tea, anyone?

We recently lucked upon this mid-century English tea set by Midwinter in a pattern called Riverside, which was designed by John Russell. It is a full set, including the teapot with lid, sugar bowl and creamer, six trios (cup, saucer, small plate), six dinner plates, six breakfast bowls, biscuit canister, a large serving bowl and another larger pitcher. We had no idea what it was, but we knew it looked promising.

Some quick research revealed that the company, W. R. Midwinter Ltd., was started in 1910 in Staffordshire, England. After the lifting of wartime restrictions in 1952, the founder's son Roy Midwinter came to the United States and liked the designs he saw here. Upon his return to England, he made changes in the company that revolutionized English tableware. The production of the Fashion Shape of Stylecraft china, with its curvy shape that was a direct departure from the straight lines of Art Deco pieces, became in instant favorite in British homes.

We picked up the set at a very good price, and I found a smaller set online (without the canister, serving bowl and large pitcher) for £325. It certainly may not fetch that kind of price in Texas, but I'm sure we won't have any problem selling it for considerably more than we paid for it.

Isn't it amazing what you run into when you're out mid-century hunting?

Full set of Midwinter Riverside
Close-up of teapot design
Close-up of cup style
Plates, cups, teapot, serving bowl and sugar bowl
Close-up of Riverside pattern


  1. Pretty! So amazing to find a full set, too. Great find.

  2. i love midwinter! my favorite pattern is zambisi - it's a midcentury funky zebra like pattern with red accents. but they made quite a few groovy patterns like cuban fantasy, sienna, cassandra, nature study.... oh i could go on!

    i don't collect it because it's pricey and so in-demand right now. i remember in the late 90's the midcent patterns were very inexepensive on ebay, i'm kicking myself for not starting a little collection then. the tea cups with the triangular saucers kill me, but the square saucers like what you found up there ^ are just as great, i prefer them to little round saucers.

  3. @Tanya: I thought it was amazing to find it intact too. Out of the entire set, there is only one tiny chip on one of the dessert plates, and it doesn't appear to be new damage. I consider it nothing short of miraculous that any vintage china has endured all these decades, but the fact that a whole set has traveled unscathed from one continent to another is truly remarkable, especially since the seller I dealt with the other day couldn't manage to ship a salt and pepper shaker less than 200 miles without damage.

  4. @stacey: I wasn't familiar with Midwinter till we found this set, but then I fell in love with Red Domino, Chequers, Nature Study, Zambesi...Like you, I could go on and on. I think Jesse Tait and Terence Conran are my favorite of the Midwinter designers.

  5. Simply lovely.

    Yes, if only we knew then what we know now, I'd be a millionaire selling off the 50's stuff I could get for pennies in the thrifts as a kid!

  6. @1950sarh: This was really dumb luck on our part this time. We were totally ignorant about what we were getting. At first I told my SIL and daughter to just pass on it. Then I changed my mind, and they decided we should leave it. Finally, we agreed that it was so cheap we couldn't lose anything. Sometimes being cheap passes for business acumen, I guess.

  7. Don't downplay having a great eye! This set is really lovely. I also love the square saucers. I wish we all still had tea parties on a regular basis... My husband drinks his morning tea out of a clunky collegiate mug. :)

  8. @adriane: A lot of the young mothers here have started having fancy dress-up tea parties for their daughters on a regular basis. Are they doing that there too? The kids have a great time dressing up, and the mothers have found a fun way to teach the girls manners. Maybe when Roxanne gets a little older, you and your friends can start doing that too. That will give you time to start collecting adorable tea sets. :)

  9. What a fun pattern! I'm so impressed you found a complete set, too.

  10. @The English Organizer: To have been completely unaware of Midwinter tea sets just a week ago, I'm now completely infatuated with them.