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How to Thrift Vintage Teacups

Thrifting teacups is a wonderful way to create a unique collection that reflects your tastes. You can choose to look for collector’s cups and saucers, or you can simply pick what speaks to you, or a combination of both! In either case, it is good to know whether you are truly picking up an antique cup (50 years or older), or a modern knock off. Along with thrift shops, try antique shops, yard sales, and the internet to find beautiful pieces to add to (or start!) your collection.

First of all, when you see a beautiful teacup in a thrift or antique shop, you want to check the cup thoroughly for cracks, chips, and stains. Teacups stain easily, so you want to make sure there are no dark markings inside or around the rim of the cup. As for cracks and chips, it is up to you to decide if small cracks are okay with you. Make sure the price reflects any marks on the cup. If the cup has more than very minor damage, it may crack more when used. In that case, if you really love the cup, you could always turn it into a flowerpot or jewelry holder.

When deciding on a teacup, you might be interested in what material it is made of. If you are looking for valuable Bone China, take the cup and hold it up to the light - Bone China will be translucent. Next, look at the stamp on the bottom of the cup/saucer. Some cups made before around 1820 have no stamp at all. After 1820, most Bone China companies put stamps on the bottom of the cups, and some newer cups may say “Bone China” on them. Visit to find out how old the cup is. You can also take the teacup to an appraiser for its estimated value.

Finally - Use them! Many people get caught up in preserving their cups, and lock them away, never to be touched again. But where’s the fun in that? you can always repair or replace a teacup, but you cannot replace the memories that come with using them by yourself and with loved ones. Take care of them by using little, if any, lemon in them (it damages the cup) hand washing them with mild soap soon after using them, drying them, and storing them behind glass. Also, don’t be afraid to buy from modern teacups, and create a collection that will one day be vintage! Brands that may be valuable one day include Royal Albert, Lenox and Horner Laughlin.

Some traditions are worth upholding… we believe that collecting teacups is a fine hobby that is not only beautiful, but encourages hospitality, friendship, and self care. Whether buying collectible pieces or cups that are just plain fun to look at, enjoy the elegance and warmth teacups add to your home!

Some sought after Teacup manufacturers include:

Japan: Ku tank Kousen Kiln, Noritake, Sami Trading Company

France: Bernardaud, Limoges

Germany: Rauenstein, Meissen

Britain: Staffordshire, Aynsley, Wedgwood


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