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Japanned crumb tray and brush

Japanned Ware Crumb Tray

Japanned tin crumb tray and brush 1860-1880, LM13

This crumb tray and bush is made from japanned ware exquisitely decorated with flowers and birds in the oriental style loved by the Victorians. Can you see the herons?


Old woman pouring tea whilst a small black cat looks on

Old woman pouring tea, unknown artist, 19th century, OP582

Catherine, Charles II’s wife, brought the habit to England from Portugal, but the ritual of tea-time really took off with Anna, seventh Duchess of Bedford, who had her maid bring in tea and sandwiches in the afternoon. Soon, it became an important social event, especially for newly- wealthy families trying to establish their social credentials; they often had tea-drinking put into family portraits to show they had made it! The tradition continued into the Victorian age; even Queen Victoria enjoyed tea-time.


‘Keeping up with the Jones’ was very important to wealthy families; tea-time was an opportunity to show off their possessions to visitors, and tea services became more elaborate, often made from china and silver. The mother of the house made and poured the tea, unknowingly imitating ancient tea-making ceremonies that had been copied from China were the tea came from.


After tea the maid would use a crumb brush and tray, like the one shown here, to sweep the crumbs from the table cloth;’ Cleanliness is next to Godliness’ was a favourite saying of the Victorians!


Japanned ware was incredibly popular in Victorian times, and Wolverhampton was one of its manufacturing centres. Many people still have pieces of japanned ware in their family today: tea caddies, music boxes, tea-trays. If you have any japanned ware, why not post a photograph of it to Flickr and add it to our “Japanned ware” group or write a comment in the box below?



UK Tea Council – The East India Company
Anna Russel, Duchess of Bedford on Wikipedia

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