Feature: A woman’s obsession with English china teaware

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by Evan Duggan

VANCOUVER, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) — June Gao stood proudly by her dining room table covered entirely with English teacups and saucers.

There were more than a hundred delicate, ornate cups laid out in tidy rows on the table. A nearby coffee table in Gao’s spacious home was also covered by what turned out to be just a tiny selection of her massive china teaware collection that would be worthy of the world’s largest tea party.

Gao said she prefers Chinese tea but loves English china teaware. She figured that she has about 400 teacup sets and more than 2,000 individual pieces including the cups, saucers, plates, ceramic figurines and dinner bells, a collection built over the past 15 years.

“My family is very supportive,” she said. “As it (the collection) got bigger, my family members started to like it as well.”

Her collection has pieces that date back decades and features brands such as Royal Albert, Aynsley and Paragon. Most of the cups were made in Britain, but now many are made in Indonesia, she said.

“When we arrived in Canada, I found that these English tea cups are more delicate and sophisticated,” Gao said. “I’ve always liked ceramic cups.”

She purchased most of them at second-hand shops, flea markets and online.

“I never use them,” she said. “I just collect them.”

Displayed in prominent glass cabinet in her kitchen is a 1960s-era Royal Albert “Old Country Roses” set. Bought at a second-hand shop in 2006, the set is her favorite.

The complete and iconic set of cups, saucers, dessert plates and teapots are adorned with orange, red and purple roses. The cup handles and cup rims are trimmed with gold.

She’s not finished collecting but needs to find more room and more time.

“I have no time to organize these,” she said, opening another cupboard in her kitchen, revealing yet another set or two of her collectibles.

“I expect in the future I will convert a bigger room, or maybe another house, to store the cups like a museum,” she said.

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