Category Archives: Drink

Suffrage activists loved their teas and parties: Part II

by Kenneth Florey

English suffrage activist Sylvia Pankhurst was responsible for the design of several tea sets.  One, commissioned by the WSPU from the Diamond China Company for their refreshment stall at the Scottish WSPU Exhibition in Glasgow in 1910, was also available for sale after the event. Here Pankhurst’s angel with clarion was now facing right.  A thistle, the national flower, was included in the image.  A third set, probably also attributable to her and certainly the rarest of all English suffrage tea china, pictured the image taken from the Holloway Prison Badge that was given to all WSPU martyrs for the cause.

The prison gate was drawn in green, and the prison arrow, which all suffrage prisoners were forced to wear on their dresses, was in dark purple.  The Women’s Freedom League, the militant but non-violent organization that broke away from the WSPU over policy differences, also produced china that probably consisted in part of teacups and saucers, but no independently produced full tea services are known.

One of the first suffrage “collectibles,” a piece that was made for display only and had no utilitarian value at all, was a silver commemorative spoon that was designed by Millie Burns Logan of Rochester, New York in 1891.  It featured a bust of Susan B. Anthony at the tip of the handle, her name, and the words “Political Equality.”  While there are about five different types of spoons known in this design, including a walnut spoon,” at least two are associated only with tea, including a small demitasse variety as well as a full teaspoon.  Logan’s mother was Anthony’s cousin, and the spoons were probably sold as a fundraiser and not for personal profit. Other commemorative silver teaspoons were later produced, including one ordered by NAWSA for their convention in 1912.

NAWSA, as well as other suffrage groups, also sold special “Votes for Women” paper napkins, which, although theoretically could be used with any type of meal or refreshment, probably were quite popular at suffrage tea parties.  Certainly, not all suffrage “tea events” necessarily involved special tea or “Votes for Women” cups, saucers, and napkins.  However, enough of them did, in part to encourage the sale of such suffrage artifacts, and in part to reinforce the message of the day.  If one were not encouraged sufficiently by a speaker to contribute to the cause, either through money or through work, perhaps the very tea cup that one was drinking from reinforced the compelling message of the movement.++

Link to Part I of the story about suffrage tea memorabilia. Did you like this article? Subscribe to Suffrage Wagon News Channel. LINK.

Ken’s new book on suffrage memorabilia will be published in the Spring/Summer of 2013. See article. The author’s web site. The video photos are from Florey’s suffrage memorabilia collection.

Reading tea leaves during National Hot Tea Month

tealeavesLet’s have some fun. Marie Knight is a guest blogger who’s sharing her reading of tea leaves for Suffrage Wagon during our celebration of National Hot Tea Month. Here’s what the tea leaves said:

“Before I even began your tea leaf reading, I kept getting a message that February will be a big month for you.  I have a very strong feeling One Billion Rising can be significant. Then I did your reading, and it confirmed this for me. I saw a flock of birds flying towards the handle. This is a sign that good fortune is coming your way, but in a manner that affects groups of people. Get involved with One Billion Rising or host your own local event which was also in the cup. (See the SWNC link.)

“A book is the second symbol that shows strongly in your reading. Have you been thinking about writing a book? Perhaps you should. As for the subject, I believe this has to do with the third symbol –a hand-held mirror. Your book should take a look into your own family for the subject, perhaps a view of the world today from Grandmother Edna’s perspective or a historical view of her own life.

“My sister Lynn is a better channeler than I am. Together we spoke to your grandmother. She said that young women are still under the same societal pressures to conform. Look at the role models they are given and these girls believe they are imperfect because of them. Unreasonable goals to be thin, to be ‘loose acting,’ and to be dim witted. Someone has to be there to show them the way. “Something else that came to my sister was an overwhelming sense of pride that Edna’s own family is continuing in her path.  The sensation was so strong that my sister Lynn was overwhelmed and brought to tears. Your grandmother is so proud of you for continuing the work.”

Thank you, Marie. She can be contacted directly for readings: LINK. January is National Hot Tea Month. Celebrate with special features on Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

NEXT TIME: Part II of Ken Florey’s article on suffrage tea memorabilia.

A hot cup of tea with your suffrage history lesson: Part I

TeaMemorabilia

by Kenneth Florey

That there was more than a casual connection between tea and suffrage activism is undeniable.  Suffragists organized tea parties to promote their cause and to raise money, as evidenced by many of the state reports that appear in Volume VI of The History of Woman Suffrage, a work that was originally conceived by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. 

Further references to suffrage tea parties are scattered throughout the pages of the Woman’s Journal, where they are sometimes held up as models to advance “votes for women.” The Woman’s Journal, the most popular and longest lasting of all suffrage publications in America, was for a time the official organ of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the main periodic source for all things suffrage related.

SPECIAL BRAND OF TEA FOR SUFFRAGE EVENTS AND FUNDRAISING

But there was also a manufacturing component involved, and “suffrage tea,” along with its ancillary products, was sold to the general public and proved to be a successful fundraiser.  During the California campaign of 1911, for example, the Oakland Amendment League had a suffrage booth at the Cherry Festival at San Leandro where they dispensed, among other items, “Equality Tea.”  This tea was a special brand for the campaign manufactured for the Woman Suffrage Party that was also sold by other organizations to raise money at their events.

The Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association advertised their own “Suffrage Tea in a Special Box” for fifty cents. In England, the Women’s Social and Political Union began selling in 1910 “Votes for Women Tea” in half pound and one pound packets.  When WWI began, the English movement, which produced a greater variety of suffrage memorabilia than did its counterpart in America, placed a semi-halt on the sale of artifacts, perhaps considering novelty items to be inappropriate during darker times.

Suffrage tea was an exception and continued to be offered through suffrage periodicals.  It is unfortunate that given its ephemeral nature, no tea, or even its attendant packaging, appears to have survived from the period, although one hopes that some examples may as yet emerge.

SUFFRAGE TEA CUPS AND TEA SETS, MOSTLY ENGLISH

There are a number of suffrage tea cups and tea sets known, but most of them are English.  The National American Woman Suffrage Association did offer for sale in its 1915 catalog a demitasse cup and saucer for fifty cents each that were embellished with the words “Votes for Women” on a small, elegant gold rim.  The setting was made for them by Hutschenreuther Selb Bavaria and imported by the Art China New York Import Company. Alva Belmont, Newport socialite and founder of the Political Equality Association, sold a small creamer for twenty-five cents that was inscribed “Votes for Women” in cobalt blue at the suffrage shop that was connected to both her headquarters and the Association’s lunchroom in New York City.

The Women’s Political and Social Union sold the most famous of the English sets at their huge bazaar at the Prince’s Skating Rink in Knightsbridge, London, held from May 13 to 26, 1909.  Manufactured by the firm of Williamsons of Longton, Staffordshire, various distinct pieces included teacups and saucers, small cake plates, a teapot with lid, a small milk jug, and a sugar basin or bowl.

In 1911, the WSPU remade the set in a slightly larger size, expanded the number of items in it from 13 to 22, and sold it for ten shillings, six pence to the general public.  All pieces featured an imprint with a design by Sylvia Pankhurst, daughter of WSPU founder Emmeline Pankhurst, of an angel facing left, blowing a curved horn.  In the background are prison bars and the initials of the WSPU.  Above the angel is a banner upon which the word “Freedom” is inscribed.

COMING SOON: The second part of the special feature by Ken Florey about suffrage movement tea memorabilia.” Ken’s new book on suffrage memorabilia will be published in the Spring/Summer of 2013. See article. The author’s web site. Photos above are from the author’s suffrage memorabilia collection.