Alfred Meakin Cup of Knowledge Embossed Signs of the Zodiac

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This Cup of Knowledge by Alfred Meakin has all-over embossing, a cartomancy interior and a small zodiac center in the well of the saucer
The Cup of Knowledge from above
The Signs of the Zodiac at the center of the saucer
Backstamp on the Signs of the Zodiac Cup of Knowledge saucer

Alfred Meakin, also known as A. Meakin, was one of the six British pottery companies that joined forces during the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924 - 1925 to craft "The Cup of Knowledge" divination tea cups and saucers. Alfred Meakin was the only pottery of the six that produced cups and saucers on a cream-coloured clay body that was not English bone china. That is, being a lower fired ware earthenware, the pieces do not "ring like a bell."

After this time, Alfred Meakin teamed with the Lipton Tea company to produce fortune telling sets and a booklet about tea leaf reading marked for Lipton's. There are numerous variations to the booklet of instructions that came with this set. Paper stock and trim size are not consistent, but which run was earlier and which was later remains undocumented.

One pattern Alfred Meakin used for their "Cup of Knowledge" sets was known as Signs of the Zodiac, in which a small transfer of the Signs of the Zodiac fits very neatly within the well of the saucer. This transfer was applied to two shapes, one in which the sides of the cup and the saucer top are faceted in art deco style, and one in which both the cup and saucer are embossed all over a raised pattern of fruits and leaves.

The embossed shape, in addition to being supplied in the Signs of the Zodiac pattern, was also available with a transfer of a small floral bouquet in the well of the saucer, as well as with a plain, undecorated saucer.


catherine yronwode
curator, historian, and docent
The Mystic Tea Room

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