Storeroom Stories: Design and Conflict: Yuan Tea Cup and Saucer

Yuan Teacup and Saucer by Wood & Sons

Yuan Teacup and Saucer by Wood & Sons

By Abigael Appleton

Designed by Frederick Alfred Rhead, who was a descendent of generations of potters and the father of Charlotte Rhead, for the company Wood & Sons, The Yuan Cup and Saucer was considered to be the company’s most successful design and was available on many other types of dishware aside from just tea cups and saucers. The Yuan design is accomplished through Copper Plate transfer usually producing a blue or brown transfer though the multi-colored pieces where hand painted over transfer prints. This design was introduced in 1916 and stayed in production until around the 1980’s because of Yuan’s popularity and then again in 2003 Wood & Sons attempted to reintroduce the design. The Wood & Sons logo has changed many times throughout the years and often these designs are vastly different. The Yuan back stamp can typically be found on items from 1915 and forward and is also likely to be designed by Rhead.


Yuan was release during a period between Art Nouveau and Art Deco in which eastern design was often being copied or adapted to a designers work. Similar to earlier ideas of Japonisme, which was usually the reproductions or pieces inspired by Japanese works, the Yuan design has a clear eastern influence. Oddly there was a dispute between the companies of Wood & Son’s and Furnival over the ownership of the Yuan design. This was caused because Furnival had released the design of Old Chelsea around the same time as Yuan. Both designs are similar enough to be confused for the other at a distance or a glance. This dispute was resolved when Rhead maintained in court that he had copied the design from a Chinese plate from the Yuan Dynasty at a British museum.

Works Cited

Bumpus, Bernard, and Frank Salmon. Collecting Charlotte Rhead: Price and Valuation  Guide 2014. N.p.: Francis Joseph Publications, 2014. Issuu. 2014. Web. 28 Nov.  2015.

“Rhead, Frederick Hurten.” Hutchinson Encyclopedia Of   Biography (2000): Biography Reference Bank (H.W. Wilson). Web. 2 Dec. 2015.

“Teacup and Saucer.” Lovers of Blue and White. N.p., n.d., Web. 03 Dec. 2015.

“Wood and Sons.” Beauville Antiques. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2015.


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