Chocolate cup

Contributed by Castle Museum York

This small cup was made in the north of England in the 1780s. Chocolate originally comes from the Americas. It was brought to Europe by the Spanish, arriving in England in the 1600s. By the 1800s chocolate was a fashionable, but expensive drink. It was often drunk by ladies, especially at breakfast. The new drink needed new wares to serve it in and the English potteries met the demand with chocolate cups and pots especially designed for the fashionable table.

The cup is made from a form of earthenware known as pearlware. Pearlware was one of the new thinner, finer materials developed in the English potteries to rival the Chinese porcelain which was being imported during the period. This cup is painted with oriental figures in bright enamel colours in direct imitation of its Chinese competition.

This cup was once in the collection of Arthur Hurst of York, a great collector and authority on European ceramics. After his death in 1940 many museums benefitted from his bequests including the Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum.

Comments are closed for this object


  • 1 comment
  • 1. At 10:15 on 23 September 2010, francoise durrance wrote:

    Is Pearlware still being manufactured? Are the shapes for decicated objetcs designed -then- to savour chocolate, still around?

    Complain about this comment

Most of the content on A History of the World is created by the contributors, who are the museums and members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC or the British Museum. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site’s House Rules please Flag This Object.

About this object

Click a button to explore other objects in the timeline


View more objects from people in North Yorkshire.

Find out more

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.