For the love of Derby: One man's passion sparks giant antique tea party - and 4,000-strong collection

Posted on 12/01/2020 in Press Coverage

Home is where the heart is for a former Derby man who’s collected thousands of antique tea cups and saucers to remind him of the place where he was born and bred.

Cuppa cheer has been the order of the day nearly every day for 10 years for 75-year-old David Boorman. However, he is about to part with his 4,000-strong collection of antique tableware which celebrates Derby Porcelain from the 1770s through to 1919.

It’s due to go under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers on Friday, January 17. However, just before its dispersal a giant antique tea party will take place to celebrate a collection which ‘does Derby’s porcelain heritage proud’. The tea party will be held on January 15, 2-5pm, at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, near Derby, and all are welcome.

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons, said: “I was amazed when I saw David’s collection and wanted to do something to celebrate its importance. It captures the history, heritage and artistry of Royal Crown Derby through the centuries.Forget your mugs, there’s nothing quite like drinking tea from a porcelain cup and saucer.”

David says his emotional connection to his home city sparked his love affair with Derby tableware after work took him to pastures new 42 years ago in 1978. His job as an IT expert took him all over the UK and to America. Now retired, he currently lives in Newcastle upon Tyne with wife Linda. But Derby, the city where he was born in 1944, constantly pulls at his heart strings.

He said: “I’m a Derby man. I grew up in Windmill Lane, off Kingsway, later moved to Mickleover and went to Ashgate and Bemrose schools. Both sets of grandparents lived in Hillsway, Littleover, and I’m still in touch with my old school friends. The porcelain connected me to Derby. Being so far away, it’s nice to have that.

“When I was growing up in the 1940s and 50s, it was aspirational to own Royal Crown Derby tableware. It was part of being a Derby person.”

The vast collection is primarily cups and saucers of all shapes and sizes from tiny to giant but also includes egg cups, side plates and miniature teapots, milk jugs and sugar bowls. It is expected to sell for between £2,500-£4,000.

Royal Crown Derby is one of the two oldest remaining English porcelain manufacturers in England. It started producing Derby Porcelain tableware and ornamental items in 1750. Thanks to royal patronage it became Royal Crown Derby in 1890.

Charles said: “Some of the earliest pieces David has sourced date back to the 1770s when people drank their tea like the Chinese in small round cups with no handles. His collection moves through the centuries to deliver a diverse and colourful mixture of designs and decoration in every colour of the rainbow. It’s truly stunning and does Derby’s porcelain heritage proud.”

David said: “It all started in 2010 when I wondered, ‘could you buy Derby ware on the internet’. Obviously, I found out that you could. It was like opening Pandora’s box. The collection grew and grew. I found many objects on eBay.

“I started picking up on different patterns and began to appreciate the age of the objects. I was amazed by the skill of painters who would have worked before electric light was invented. I particularly liked the flamboyant designs of Bloor porcelain from the early part of the 19th century.”

Robert Bloor, the firm’s salesman and clerk, leased the Derby works in 1815 and made his mark. Under him, the company produced richly coloured and elegantly styled porcelain that proved hugely popular.

David said: “Eventually I had around 4,000 pieces. It took over our terraced house. The collection filled the living room and spread into the kitchen. I’m selling it now because you have to consider the cycle of life. I’d like to think I have a quarter of a century left but I could go next week.

“Neither of my two children have expressed an interest in the collection and I wouldn’t want them to be faced with handling it. I’d like it go to people who will continue to appreciate it.

“It seemed only right to bring it back to Derby to sell it and Charles Hanson is Derbyshire through and through. You can’t miss him if you watch the telly. I like the way he reaches out to his audience. So, one day I diverted my car to his saleroom in Etwall, the village where my mum used to live, and it was so easy to say, ‘can you sell this for us?’

“My collection is quite diverse. It’s got everything from general tableware to demitasse miniature espresso-sized cups and saucers. Every piece is an antique, at least 100 years old. I have never drunk from any of the cups, though I have been tempted. It’s sad to see it go but I’ve really enjoyed collecting it and owning it.”

The David Boorman Derby Porcelain Collection will be sold on January 17 at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, DE65 6LS. Viewing will be available on Wednesday January 15, 11am-7pm with the tea party taking place from 2-5pm. To find out more, email [email protected]

Bring your ceramics for free valuation

Any gems in your china cabinet? Collectable pottery and porcelain of all types, such as Crown Derby, Beswick, Doulton, Royal Worcester and Moorcroft, is sold at Hansons every month and also enters our quarterly Fine Art sales. Free valuations are available on Wednesdays, 5-7.30pm, Fridays, 10am-4pm, and Saturdays, 9am-noon, at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire. Alternatively, email: [email protected]