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This item sold on July 21, 2012.

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Add a little magic to your afternoon tea with this stunning Japanese Kutani Lithophane Porcelaine tea trio. Lithophanes are hidden images that are revealed when held up to the light - a truly remarkable technique! The secret image in this set is embedded in the base of the cup, the face of a very pretty Geisha girl with features as delicate as the porcelaine itself! (See image above)

The exterior of the tea cup, saucer and cake plate are all decorated with the same hand painted Japanese landscape scene - tall stalks of bamboo border the scene to the right, their leaves hanging as a canopy over the central view of two waterside huts nestled amongst a stand of trees with a small sailing boat close to the shoreline. The scene is coloured in shades of green, bright blue, red and brown with glimmering gold used to outline objects and add texture and detail. Around the rims of all three pieces run black bands with gold chevron decoration. Gilding around the foot and on the handle of the cup as well as an extra spray of bamboo leaves just below the banded border on the otherwise plain back of the cup are lovely little extra touches.

Even more special is the lithophane image! When looking down into the cup you see an impressed outline moulded into the white porcelaine. Hold the cup up to the light and the outline fills with the face of a pretty Geisha girl. The image looks like a black and white photo embedded within the porcelaine. It really is magical!

The cup is unmarked but the saucer and cake plate both have the same backstamp which reads 'Kutani' above a diamond shape with the initials 'N S' inside and below that the word 'China'. The words 'Hand painted' also appear. Kutani refers to a region in Japan where porcelaine has been decorated for hundreds of years. I believe the 'N S' in this case must refer to the particular factory where this set was painted. I have tried to find dating information for this backstamp and more info on the company but have not been able to. With regards to age, I suspect this set was made in the 1950s or 60s as it seems to compare in style and appearance to other sets I have seen dating to these decades - but I cannot date them with certainty. If anyone has further information on the maker or date of this set please get in touch!

The pieces are all in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, breaks or crazing. There is a very little bit of wear on the gilded chevron borders and on the cake plate some of the painted lines on the boat's sail have been worn in places. There are two or three very fine surface scratches on the plate, the result of use, which can been seen when reflected in direct light. There are some grey spots on the back of the cup but they appear to be under the glaze so must date to production - some stray paint I think.

The cup is about 6cm high and across, the saucer is about 14 cm across and the plate is 18cm in diameter.

This is an absolutely outstanding tea trio with charm, beauty - and a real touch of magic!

Vintage Japanese Geisha Girl Lithophane Tea Cup Trio: Kutani Porcelaine Tea Cup, Saucer and Cake Plate Trio


  • Vintage item from the 1950s
  • Materials: china, porcelaine, ceramic, pottery, clay, glaze, paint
  • Feedback: 34 reviews
  • Ships from York, United Kingdom to select countries.