Farewell my Valentine

10 February 2011 by Lucy

Francesca Aiken, assistant exhibition curator for the Global City gallery in the new Museum of Liverpool says:

Photograph of porcelain tea cup and saucer

‘The Sailors Farewell’ cup and saucer, on display in the Global City gallery from July in the new Museum of Liverpool

Working late, forgot the flowers, no card this year? Spare a thought for the wife of this sailor, whose husband must soon depart for many weeks or months on board ship without contact from home.

A sailor’s life was a dangerous one, where being swept overboard or wrecked without hope of rescue were a constant risk.  Forget texts or Facebook, this young woman would have to wait until he returned home to know if he was safe or not.

Known as ‘The Sailors Farewell’ this porcelain teacup and saucer was made in China in the early 1800s for sale to European socialites who enjoyed the delicate art of tea drinking.

Due to be displayed in the new Museum of Liverpool opening this July, this rare example of a European couple painted by Chinese artists will feature in the Global City gallery alongside some of the best examples of Liverpool and Chinese pottery from the 18th and 19th centuries.

East meets West the story of Shanghai and Liverpool illustrates how potters in Liverpool upped their game by imitating Chinese porcelain (even going so far as to add fake Chinese marks to the base) to meet the insatiable demand of consumers.


  1. Julia MacKay says:

    I have a Moore & Co. punch bowl with the Sailor’s Farewell and other poems. The bowl is the same as the pink one in the museum except mine is off-white. Where can I find more information on these bowls.


  2. Fran says:

    Hi Julia,

    ‘The Sailors Farewell’ is featured in a 1997 Sotheby’s catalogue, ‘A Tale of Three Cities: Canton, Shanghai and Hong Kong’ by David S Howard. The article states this design was particularly popular on mugs and punch bowls of the late 18th century and although the dress/background may change, the pose is always the same.

    The cup and saucer on the website is hand painted Chinese porcelain, an early example of Chinese export ware – made specifically for sale to the West rather than the home market. Punch bowls were more commonly made in Britain however as the large robust design was easier for English potters to produce (lacking the same skills as the Chinese potters of the day).

    I am unable to tell you more about Moore and Co unfortunately, but The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery has one of the best ceramics collection in the country and offer an online enquiries service, they may be able to tell you more. You can email them on:

    Best wishes,


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