1909 Suffragette exhibition tea set expected to fetch £1,500 at auction

A four-piece china tea set that was used at a now-forgotten exhibition to raise money for the suffragette movement is expected to fetch up to £1,500 when it is sold at auction.

The sugar bowl and plates were part of a larger collection designed by Sylvia Pankhurst, daughter of the leading light of the suffragette movement Emmeline Pankhurst.

The china was used at the two-week-long Women’s Exhibition of 1909, which raised funds for the suffragettes in their quest to allow women to vote in elections.

Tora Edmonds with the tea set
Tora Edmonds with the tea set

It was held in the now defunct Prince’s Ice-Skating Rink in Knightsbridge, London.

The tea set, whose design features a trumpeting angel below the banner “Freedom”, was used in the refreshments room of the exhibition and was sold afterwards.

Made by HM Williamson, of Longton, Staffordshire, it includes the symbolic colours of the suffragettes: purple for loyalty and dignity, white for purity and green for hope.

Richard Edmonds, principal auctioneer at Chippenham Auction Rooms, said: “There’s no doubt that suffragettes are hot right now.

Motif on Suffragette tea cup
Motif on Suffragette tea cup

“Gender politics has been front and centre in the news recently, hence we’re seeing plenty of interest in the women’s movement from both private collectors and museums.

“We think the set could go for up to £1,500.

“While we’ve never come across any examples of this tea set before, we’re aware there are examples in the V&A Museum in London and in China.

“These are rare items that are part of the story of one of the most important political movements of 20th-century Britain.”

The tea set is being sold by a couple from Pembrokeshire, Wales, who have owned it for five years and will go under the hammer on May 4.