Have you ever wondered how the Victorians survived without tupperware, enamel pans, Pyrex and plastic? The answer is that they used far more crockery – all sorts of ceramic vessels, which broke with great regularity and emerge in thick and densely packed layers in rubbish dumps of the period.

The following list is from a catalogue published by Pellatt & Co of London, suppliers of glass and earthenware, in 1870. It included all the items and the costs of furnishing a small house or cottage with glass, china and stoneware. This was for a middle class family with servants. (Note that the family shared one toilet service, and the servants another.)

  • 1 Dinner Set for 12 – oval covered pieces etc, in neat blue, marone bands, clear strong stoneware. 7s 7d.
  • 1 Dessert Set for 12 – 12 plates and 6 fruit dishes in Wedgwood, best green glaze. 2s 2d.
  • 1 Breakfast Set for 6 – fine china and gilt.
  • 12 Tea cups and saucers. 10s 6d.
  • 8 Coffee cups – to match the above, forming a tea service.
  • 1 Toilet service – including 1 ewer and basin, 2 chambers (i.e. chamber pots), 1 soap dish, 1 brush tray, all in blue key design. 10s 6d. Extra pieces included – sponge bowl, mouth ewer and basin, slop pail, foot pan, large jug.
  • 1 Toilet service, plain white, for servants. 5s 6d.
  • 2 Quart decanters, cut glass, polished stoppers. 12s 6d.
  • 2 Pint decanters, to match.
  • 12 Wine glasses, cut flutes.
  • 12 Tumblers, cut flutes. 7s 6d.
  • 4 Salts, 1 sugar glass, 1 cream jug. 2s 6d.
  • 2 Water carafes and glasses. 7s.


  • 6 White dinner plates, 6 pudding plates, 1 covered vegetable dish, 3 meat dishes, 1 sauce boat. 5s 4d.
  • 2 Large cups and saucers, 2 tea cups and saucers, 1 slop basin, 1 milk jug, 1 bread plate. 4s.


  • 3 Parlour jugs. 3s.
  • 2 Kitchen jugs. 1s 2d.
  • 2 Handled beer mugs. 9d.
  • 2 Plain basins. 1s.
  • 2 Lipped basins. 1s.Fig. 56
  • 2 Pudding basins. 1s.
  • 2 Printed pie dishes. 11d.
  • 1 kitchen pepper, salt and mustard. 1s 4d.

The total cost, without the extras, was £10 1s. The cost to furnish a mansion, however, was £150 17s 8d, and included such luxuries as jelly glasses, custard glasses, a tongue pan, a pickling pan, a set of plain white tableware for kitchen or pantry use, and a set of gold lined, crested dinner plates with Sévres blue edge. Other ceramic items would have been found in some households, such as candlesticks (which were silver or brass in better-off homes), vases, spill holders, pocket-watch stands, pipe stands, umbrella stands, jardinières, decorative tiles, tobacco jars, water filters and ornaments.