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Penn History

University of Pennsylvania China Bicentennial Wedgwood Dessert Cups and Saucers, 1940

The plates in this set were donated to the University of Pennsylvania by Susan M. Todres, a loyal alumna.

This exhibit was created in July 2005 by University Archives Summer Research Fellow Seth S. Tannenbaum. Seth is an undergraduate at Vassar College.

In commemoration of the University’s bicentennial, the University in 1939 commissioned two sets of Wedgwood China, one set of a dozen plates and one set of an equal number of dessert (or demitasse) cups and saucers. One set of dessert cups and saucers originally sold for twenty-two dollars.

Like the plates, the cups were white, printed in red with drawings of campus scenes done by alumni of the University. The scene and the artist are identified on the bottom of each of cup. Each demitasse cup also featured a portrait of Benjamin Franklin. In fact, the Wedgwood China Company was selected for this commission partly because this firm had already produced several portraits of Benjamin Franklin during his lifetime, including the portrait which appears on the cups.

The saucers were all white, featuring a raised design of a laurel wreath and the coat-of-arms of the University.

Pre-Revolutionary Buildings
Wedgwood china, cup depicting pre-Revolutionary buildings (Fourth Street campus), 1940
Presidential Mansion
Wedgwood china, cup depicting Presidential Mansion (Ninth Street Campus), 1940
College Hall in 1861
Wedgwood china, cup depicting College Hall in 1861 (Ninth Street Campus), 1940
Bennett Hall Entrance
Wedgwood china, cup depicting Bennett Hall Entrance, 1940
Christian Association
Wedgwood china, cup depicting Christian Association, 1940
University Library
Wedgwood china, cup depicting University Library, 1940
Houston Hall Porch
Wedgwood china, cup depicting Houston Hall Porch, 1940
Moore School Doorway
Wedgwood china, cup depicting Moore School Doorway, 1940
Provost’s House
Provosts Tower
Wedgwood china, cup depicting Provosts Tower, 1940
Reunion in the Triangle
Wedgwood china, cup depicting a Reunion in the Triangle, 1940
Whitefield Statue and Memorial Tower
Wedgwood china, cup depicting Whitefield Statue and Memorial Tower, 1940
Benjamin Franklin Medallion Portrait
Wedgwood china, cup depicting a Benjamin Franklin Medallion, 1940
Bottom View of Cup
Wedgwood china, bottom of cup, 1940
Wedgwood china, saucer for cup, 1940