The Victorian Teaset

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What Does The Victorian Tea Set Tell Us About Consumption In 19th Century Britain? A) Conspicuous Consumption and Social Emulation

Consumption began to increase greatly as the industrial revolution kicked in, meaning that demand rose substantially for many goods not readily available to the masses beforehand, for example, tea. The Victorian tea set can tell us a great deal about consumption and conspicuous consumption in 19th century Britain. For instance, that appearance and the expensive belongings people had were important to one’s image and social stature, therefore, for families that were able to afford such things such as an expensive Wedgwood tea set were seen as important and wealthy people. The Victorian tea set also became a fashion accessory. Furthermore, luxury and consumption also began to grow more hand in hand. However, conspicuous consumption and social emulation affected the working classes greatly which will also be explored. Wedgwood, being a producer of high quality tea sets in the 19th century, began to aim its products at a much wider market by the 1840s by producing mid – range tea sets so that more British households could afford such luxuries.[1] This shows that demand and conspicuous consumption was on the rise as many more people began the need for this new fashion accessory, hence Wedgwood expanding into this mid – range market. The rise in demand of tea sets ultimately evolved from the fast growing popularity of tea, as it became a respectable drink suitable for all sexes and an appropriate alternative to beer, port and gin, which were drinks drank to avoid the dirty water around at the time. The taste for tea had spread to the working class, which increased demand and ultimately prices, which meant that they were able to have a luxury and drink the same beverages as middle and upper class people were consuming. Furthermore,…...

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