Details & Cataloguing

English Literature, History and Children's Books & Illustrations


[Austen, Jane].

90 individual pieces, consisting of the following items or sets (each noted with length measurements):

1 rounded oblong meat dish (510mm.);
1 set of 6 graduated rounded oblong serving dishes (520 to 265mm.);
1 rounded oblong serving dish (472mm.);
1 rounded oblong serving dish (360mm.);
36 dinner plates (246mm.);
12 desert plates (208mm.);
9 soup plates (250mm.);
3 tureens, covers and stands (285mm.);
1 tureen stand (288mm.);
1 rounded oblong vegetable tureen and cover (240mm.);
1 rounded oblong vegetable tureen cover (225mm.);
1 two-handled rounded oblong bowl (350mm.);
2 sauce tureens and stands (182mm.);
3 rounded oblong fruit bowls (310mm.);
3 rounded oblong small shallow dishes (180mm.);

each with 'lozenge' pattern in blue, brown and gilt together with family crest, impressed upper case manufacturer's mark on base, some chips and occasional heavy wear, some repairs and occasional hair cracks

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Edward Austen Knight, and thence by direct family descent

Catalogue Note

An exceptional opportunity to acquire a unique component of Austen family life.

This dinner set, familiar to Jane Austen, has been in the Knight family ownership since purchase. It is extremely rare for items with such a direct Jane Austen association to be offered for sale.

On 16 September 1813 Jane Austen wrote a letter to her sister, Cassandra, in which she noted a visit with her brother and a niece to Wedgwood's in London:

...We then went to Wedgwoods where my brother and Fanny chose a Dinner Set. I believe the pattern is a small Lozenge in purple, between Lines of narrow Gold; - and it is to have the Crest.

(see Deirdre Le Faye, Jane Austen's Letters, Oxford, 1995, p. 224).

The decoration corresponds to pattern no 424 in Josiah Wedgwood's first pattern book. The first order appeared in Wedgwood's books two days after Jane's letter, on 18 September 1813 with a repeat order for the same pattern and crest on 10 May 1827.

Jane Austen's brother, Edward Austen (1767-1852), was made heir to his distant cousin Thomas Knight in 1783. From him Edward Austen inherited three estates: Steventon, Chawton and Godmersham. In 1812 he officially took the name of 'Knight'. Evidently a year later he commissioned a dinner service from Wedgwood and Jane Austen was present at the time of choice and purchase.

Jane Austen was a frequent guest at her brother's house in Chawton and would have seen, used and eaten from these dishes many times. She worked on all six of her novels while living at Chawton Cottage.

Several pieces from this dinner service were formerly loaned by descendants of Jane Austen's brother's family to the Chawton House where they were displayed in the dining room.

English Literature, History and Children's Books & Illustrations