Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn raises a cup to some fantastic fundraisers...
How often can you help a wonderful cause by having a brew? Amazing Macmillan nurses have supported literally millions of people and their families affected by cancer, including many of us or those we know, I am sure.
Incredibly, they are a charity who rely on donations. Their biggest fundraiser is the annual ‘World’s Biggest Coffee Morning’, happening this Friday. Starting in 1990 with the simple idea that people would gather over coffee and donate the cost of their cuppa to Macmillan, it is now a national event, raising over £200 million; £26 million in 2018 alone.
And what a great way to get involved. Britain has a reputation as a nation of tea drinkers, but the proliferation of high street coffee shops hints at the average 70 million cups of coffee that UK drinkers down every single day.
The coffee plant is thought to have originated in Ethiopia, with the earliest evidence of coffee drinking recorded in 15th century Yemen.
It reached Britain in the late 1500s, and nowadays it is the second most traded commodity in the world, behind only petroleum.
As home consumption of coffee grew, so did the paraphernalia we are familiar with to this day. Coffee collectables range from antique grinders and mills to vintage percolators and pots, and wonderful adverts on tins and signs.
Kenrick & Sons produced box coffee grinders from the 1790s. Their Victorian grinders fetch £45 upwards (look for their signature oval brass nameplate), and can still be used today.
Copper stovetop percolators are very collectable, as are early porcelain and glass electric models, including Corning Ware.
All the major porcelain manufacturers developed coffee sets, including Royal Worcester, Wedgwood and Spode.
Tall and elegant ceramic Fiesta pots from the late 1930s to the early ’40s are very collectable, as are Burleigh Pottery’s beautiful art deco pots.
Antique silver coffee pots start at over £100, and can go up to thousands, depending on quality and decoration. More common, and considerably cheaper, are pewter, “poor man’s silver”, largely produced in Sheffield.
So coffee lovers, raise a cuppa to Macmillan this week and the wonderful work they do. They’re true heroes.