In the mid 18th century tea drinking ritual, the shallow saucers of the day were not able to hold the long- stemmed tea spoons in use.

Instead, these were placed in small, flat dishes on the table. Originally referred to as spoon boats, and later as spoon trays, these were in use as early as 1706. This delicately-patterned spoon tray is decorated with a chinoiserie design not previously known to be on any other piece of English glazed tea ware. A bamboo stem in the background is partially obscured by a lotus flower with outspread veined leaves. The motif is echoed in smaller blossoms which run around its sinuous, curving edge. The rococo form suggests that the tray was probably made in a Liverpool factory around 1750-55. Tin-glazed spoon trays from the mid-eighteenth century are scarce, as China was exporting large numbers of hard-paste porcelain examples at comparatively low prices.

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