Antique and Vintage Tea Trivets, once hidden beneath the dainty teapot, embrace a beauty all their own.
The art of taking tea in the afternoon developed into a social event around the late 1830’s and early 1840’s. Only the wealthiest could afford this fashionable affair and their tea was served in the finest porcelain and china sets. The tea sets of yesteryear were quite small with each teacup just large enough to hold a few tablespoons of the luxurious brew. Each piece had to complement the other and be of the highest quality, from the tiny teacups to the teapot to the waste bowls. The tea set was born.
Manufacturers of fine china and porcelain produced many lovely tea accoutrements. Tea trivets, also called tea tiles, had a singular purpose: to serve as a resting place for a hot porcelain teapot. They were approximately 6 inches across, made with raised edges to frame the accompanying tea pot and were much sturdier than their delicate counterparts. Some trivets were beautifully hand-painted with delicate florals in soft pastel colors and glazed, while others were decorated with equally lovely transferware techniques.
From Wedgewood to Rosenthal to Limoges, tea trivets were every bit as beautiful as their complimentary counterparts. They were utilized more than any piece of china, yet rarely seen. Collectors are changing that by displaying these unique and beautiful pieces alongside other antique and vintage porcelain.
It is rare to find a trivet that looks untouched by time and use, and those in pristine condition sell for top dollar. Most trivets show years of wear comparable to that of older Ironstone pieces; fine crazing, faded gold gilding, minor discolorations and, very frequently, small hairline cracks. A trivet’s thickness, durability and ability to disburse the tea pot’s heat evenly prevented them from being broken or cracked.
Trivets were made to sustain abuse, and therefore do not need the gentle care and hand-washing given to most vintage and antique china pieces. Use them for your sturdy cappuccino mug instead of a matching saucer. Put them on the table to use for hot foods instead of your conventional oven mitt or potholder. They make charming coasters for beverages and add non-traditional beauty and vintage appeal to your bar or beverage cart.
Collect and display these beauties with your vintage and antique china. Tea trivets may be a thing of the past, but their beauty and usefulness lives on and on.
I love each and every one of my trivets, but here is a collage of my favorites.