This is a “tête-à-tête” coffee set, and consisting of five pieces; one coffee pot, one creamer, two saucers and serving tray, each one finely hand painted with applied leaves and grains of coffee. This lovely little set was manufactured by William Guerin and Co., Limoges, France and designed exclusively to Gath & Chaves, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The mark indicates that it was made sometime between 1900 and 1932.
I put on the table a beautiful old piece of French cotton lace. This midnight blue lace has an exquisite pattern with oak leaves and acorns. The mighty oak is a symbol of strength, refuge, longevity and resilience.
Limoges & Guerin
Limoges has become the generic name of hard paste porcelain that was produced during the 18th, 19th and into the 20th century in one of the many factories in Limoges, a French town situated about 250 miles southwest of Paris in the Vienne valley. Each factory used a unique factory back stamp or underglaze mark. Each piece of Limoges was produced using the same formula of feldspar, kaolin and quartz. Each piece was subjected to the same intense firing process of about 900 degrees for 16 hours, followed by the glazing process, and yet another firing at approximately 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for eight more hours.
Limoges in the early 1800s was making the finest, purest white porcelain in the world. By the 1830s, there were at least 35 porcelain factories and 62 decorating studios operating in the Limoges region.
William Guerin (1838-1912) was born near Limoges and trained in porcelain techniques. In 1836, he rented a porcelain decorating workshop in the Faubourg Montjovis (Limoges), doing export.
About 1872, Guerin took over the porcelain workshop of Lebron & Cie. Then in 1877 he bought the porcelain factory that had been established by Jouhanneaud and Dubois in Rue du Petit-Tour (Limoges), and which had been bought in 1867 by the Utzschneider Company of Sarregemines. This enlarged company produced a wide range of wares, selling a lot of white ware and also continuing decoration.
Guerin’s sons William and Andre joined the company in 1903. In 1911 W. Guerin & Cie. merged with the nearby Pouyat factory. Possibly both company marks were continued; in any case WWI greatly decreased output.
In 1920 or 1921 by Bawo & Dotter Ltd., owner of Elite name, bought Guerin & Cie and became Guerin Pouyat Elite, with Carl Bawo as technical director from 1923. The factory closed in 1932 and was demolished in 1933.
One characteristic phenomenon of the Biedermeier period (1815–1850s) was the emphasis on the private sphere. Interiors became comfortable, reception rooms evolved into living rooms, and the decorative arts concentrated on items of personal delight. The tête-à-tête (French, face to face) is a prime example. It is a small coffee, tea or chocolate service for two persons. Usually, such sets were made out of porcelain or silver.