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What are the Most Valuable Tea Sets? And the Least Valuable?

Fareeha Ahmad

As auctioneers, immersed in the world of tea sets, we’re eager to show you the valuable tea sets currently captivating the market, alongside those quietly awaiting their moment in the spotlight. For every teapot and cup, there lies a story, and within these tales, fortunes may await. 

Royal Crown Derby Imari pattern 6299 Miniature Tea and Dinner ware, sold for £130 

Market Trends Right Now 

Currently, the tea set market is experiencing steady growth driven by factors such as the increasing popularity of tea consumption, changing consumer lifestyles, and growing interest in afternoon tea.

From the resurgence of tea as a favoured indulgence to the allure of afternoon tea, this is undoubtedly a thriving market. 

The sanctity of home dining has never been more popular, elevating tabletop adornments to newfound popularity within the auction market. Within this renaissance, tea sets and dinnerware are sought-after treasures. 

Barzilay Freund, Director of Fine Arts at 1stDibs noted an increasing fascination with antique and vintage tea sets, citing a remarkable 134 percent surge in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) year over year.  

“Setting a beautiful table—that not only has visual interest but feels celebratory—has become a priority, even if it’s just for yourself and your family” he explains.   

These days, buyers from Far East Asian countries like Japan, Korea, China, and Thailand dominate the auction market for dinner and valuable tea sets. They particularly favour well-known brands from Stoke-on-Trent, such as Wedgwood, Royal Albert, Shelley, Hammersley, Minton, Royal Doulton, Spode, and others. 

With much of British production from these brands halted and with the fragile nature of tea and dinnerware, demand is steadily rising. Certain valuable tea sets and pieces are poised to become increasingly scarce in the years ahead. 

Most Valuable Sets

Potteries Auctions regularly feature tea sets from the aforementioned brands, typically sourced from local collectors or the children of collectors seeking to part with their parents’ sets which no longer serving a purpose in their own homes.

Classic patterns like Florentine from Wedgwood or Old Country Roses from Royal Albert have stood the test of time, retaining their value at auction. They consistently attract a large pool of bidders in our auctions.

This extensive Wedgwood Turquoise Florentine tea and dinner set with classic Portland vase marks sold for £1,200 last year. It comprises cups and saucers, a tea pot, a coffee pot a tureen and more totalling 68 pieces

Most well-selling sets are not necessarily rare; instead, they are often complete or extensive collections in impeccable condition. 

We sold this Royal Worcester Harewood pattern 61-piece dinner service for £880

Occasionally, we encounter truly remarkable sets with captivating backstories that command attention from collectors and even historians. 

This is a Spode Lancaster pattern dinner service R8950 in cobalt blue with finest gilt decoration which sold for £1,800 last year. The original design was sold to the white Star Line, and was one of several services used on the Titanic 

In addition to timeless classics, floral chintz gilded designs are currently in high demand, particularly rarer sets from the 1930s adorned with artists’ signatures. 

Shelley sets are incredibly popular right now, this set of Shelley chintz cups and saucers of various designs including Marguerite sold for £880

For some select tea sets, small and large collections are equally favoured due to their popularity. So, it doesn’t matter if you have 20 pieces or 200 pieces- they are almost always guaranteed to sell.

One of our most popular selling dinner wares is undoubtedly Royal Albert Old Country Roses. Here’s one set which sold for £3,700 and contains approximately 500 pieces of Tureens, Tea & Coffee Sets, Platters, Fancies, Cutlery etc

A much smaller set of Old Country Roses, these 25 pieces of tea and dinner ware made a respectable £170 recently

Least Valuable Sets

Despite their illustrious origins, not all sets from renowned makers enjoy high demand due to the fluid nature of trends. Contemporary designs from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, in particular, are currently experiencing reduced sale prices. 

This large collection of Royal Doulton Melissa Patterned set from the Romance collection was produced between 1986 and 1993. In perfectly good condition, this set only sold for £14

Some sets that may face challenges include English brands that have shifted production overseas, like contemporary Wedgwood and Royal Doulton, now manufactured in Indonesia. While these brands remain popular, older pieces crafted in England hold greater appeal for collectors.

The majority, if not all, of the tea and dinnerware we auction from these companies originates from when production was based in England. The transition to overseas manufacturing has rendered these traditional English brands less desirable in the auction market. 

This example, from Susie Cooper- a prolific Stoke-on-Trent artist produced a dismal result at auction due to three of the four saucers being damaged and re-glued in multiple places, only selling for £5

It’s a straightforward truth: items in less-than-stellar condition typically struggle to find buyers. Unless they boast rarity or come from a highly coveted designer, these items often fall short in terms of auction value.

Unfavoured Brands Right Now

  • Crown Devon
  • Denby Stoneware
  • Crown Staffordshire
  • Johnson Brothers
  • Grindley
  • Rosina
  • Royal Grafton
  • Crown Ducal

A Crown Devon cobalt blue and gold Art Deco style 15 piece coffee set sold for £15 recently. An attractive enough set, it unfortunately just is not in favour with buyers right now

Want to Sell Your Valuable Tea Sets? 

Our friendly team can help you get your tea sets into auction. Potteries Auctions holds free valuation days every Tuesday at our saleroom in Silverdale. To book an appointment to attend, use our online booking form here

You can also email us at, or call us on 01782 638100. Your items can even be valued via WhatsApp: simply send some clear pictures via the app to 07864 667940.