Last month, we had an exciting auction where one of the “stars” of the auction was a cup and saucer set. In the 10 years we’ve been in business, we’ve auctioned thousands of dishes, bowls, platters and other tableware, drinkware and cutlery. From exquisite fine porcelain dinnerware sets to Tupperware, we’ve seen it all. Or so we thought.
In September, the cup and saucer made its way to our auction house, along with fine art and other antiques from an estate. Our processing manager’s eyes lit up when he unpacked it from the box. Aside from the intricate painting of soldiers with horses, there were several clues that this was a special set.
The elegant, gilded cup and saucer was painted with a rich, cobalt blue and was in excellent condition. The cup was larger than a teacup, giving us another clue that this cup and saucer likely belonged to a wealthy and privileged homeowner.
Fortunately, the markings on the bottom of the cup and saucer gave us the strongest clue. Each had two blue-painted interlaced Ls, and they were marked as “Sèvres.”
The Cup and Saucer Sold at Auction for $5,500
This was an antique Sèvres cup and saucer produced in France by Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory. The famous porcelain factory was originally founded under the name of Manufacture de Vincennes in 1738 and received royal support from King Louis XV of France.
Around the mid-18th Century, the factory began to use Kaolin, one of the main ingredients of Chinese-style hard-paste porcelain. The firm also invented a new shade of dark blue, known as Sèvres blue. These were game changers for Sèvres, and their dinnerware, vases and plaques became coveted luxury items throughout Europe. But by the turn of the century, the company was in financial ruin after the French Revolution.
With new leadership, Sèvres restored its reputation, and it remains one of the most famous porcelain manufacturing companies in the world.
Prior to the auction, we knew there was strong interest in the Sèvres cup and saucer because we registered new bidders from other states as well as different countries. As we suspected, a biddy frenzy ensued until the beautiful cup and saucer set sold for $5,500 to a bidder in France.
I’m still in awe that something so rare and fragile could survive so many years and remain in excellent condition. It’s remarkable that master craftsmen could create such beautiful porcelain pieces and that whoever owned the cup and saucer over the span of so much time took great steps to protect it.
It’s also a good reminder to consult with a professional appraiser or industry expert if you think you may have an antique. Don’t make the mistake of discarding or donating a cup and saucer that could do well at auction.