Friday, November 14, 2014

WHAT IS A CUSTARD CUP?


Early 19th century transferware custard cups


Here are some questions I have asked myself about custard cups, as there appears to be some confusion.  What is a custard cup?  It is not a syllabub cup or a punch cup.  Does it have a saucer?  No.  What is custard?  It is a smooth and creamy dessert made with eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla.  Is it what Americans call pudding?  Yes (sort of).  According to the The Dictionary of Blue and White Printed Pottery 1780-1880, Vol. I by Coysh and Henrywood,  p. 100, "Up to and including the early 19th century it was common practice to serve custard as part of a sweet course in separate little glass cups with handles.  Pottery custard cups, some of which have lids, are not uncommon and examples are known from major factories such as Spode and Wedgwood.  These cups are made in a variety of shapes; one is shaped like a comma."


Etruscan pattern comma-shaped 2 inch by 2.5 inch custard cup, ca. 1820/Notice the wraparound pattern and serrated edge
Another view of the Etruscan pattern custard cup
Another view of the Etruscan pattern custard cup
A Spode  (1770-1833) Greek Pattern (border only) 3.5 inch high custard cup with lid, ca. 1820

Chinoiserie pattern 2.5 inch by 3 inch custard cup
Ralph Hall (1822-1849) Select Views 2.5 inch by 3.25 inch custard cup/only the border is used/see the other side in the group photo above
Feeding Chickens 3 inch by 3 inch custard cup
Dark blue 2.5 inch by 2.5 inch custard cup
I have one more question.  The spoons must have been small.  Is there a custard spoon?

If you are tempted to make custard, here is an easy and delicious recipe. If you want to learn some custard/pudding history, look here.


4 comments:

  1. All gorgeous and I've never seen that one tear shaped piece before...amazing. Looks like perhaps there were many that may have fit together? I would've thought the last four look more like children's teaset pieces or demitasse cups...and the covered cups were chocolate cups. How does one define the difference then versus a custard cup?

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    1. I was always puzzled as to the exact use of these cups. However, Drakard and Holdway in their book "Spode Transfer Printed Ware, 1784-1833, show custard cups on p. 273; open custard cups, French covered custards, bell custards, and barrel covered custards. Custard was the intended use for these items in the early 19th century. Also, you will never find a saucer! I don't know if the tear or comma shaped custards fit together, but it is possible.

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  2. Curious as to whether the comma shaped cup is marked, or the maker is known? I have a plate in a very similar pattern I'm still trying to identify. It's marked with an underglaze lion atop a crown, flanked by the initials G and H and with the word "GRECIAN" in a scroll underneath.

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    1. According to the database of the Transferware Collectors Club, your plate, "Grecian," was made by Goodwins & Harris (1831-1838) in Lane End, Staffordshire. My custard cup is a different pattern by an unknown maker.

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