tea set collection

This woman in Toronto has more than 450 teapot sets in her two-bedroom condo

A silver teapot set found on a trip to Mexico started a 46-year hobby of collecting for a Toronto woman.

Jean Hong Pilon, 68, has filled her 1,000 square-foot, two-bedroom condo with about 470 tea sets. The sets usually consist of a teapot, cups, creamer and sugar dishes and a tray, she told blogTO. Most are very tiny with cups the size of a fingernail or smaller.

tea set collection

The tiny teapots and cups are from all over the world.

She displays them in nine glass cabinets all over the condo. She also has collections of miniature pianos and Russian dolls.

"I get so much pleasure from looking at them because they are so beautiful and unique," she said.

tea set collection

The tea sets are displayed on cake trays to make room for her growing collection.

She plans to cap her tea set collection at 500.

"I am running out of space," she said. "What I have to do is squeeze them closer together. I have no more room for another cabinet."

The collection started in 1975 when Pilon spotted a silver tea set in Mexico.

"I got it for $10," she said.

tea set collection

Most of the tea sets are ceramic.

Most of the sets are ceramic but there are some made of paper (quilling), wood, metal, and clay. The cheapest tea set is $2, a wooden one from Germany, and most expensive is $600, a 1938 antique Royal Crown Derby set from England.

"It is not an investment really, it is just for the beauty of it," Pilon said. 

tea pot collection

Pilon has 470 tea sets.

The tea sets are from 25 different countries — including England, Scotland, Brazil, Russia, Australia, Austria, Columbia, Peru, India, Thailand and Ecuador. She has a few from Canada — including one from Toronto clay artist Patrick Mok.

tea set collection

The tea sets are displayed in cabinets, including two hanging cabinets in her condo.

"I have no favourites, I love all of them," she said.

Pilon worked for CIBC bank for 35 years then after retiring, she took a part-time job as a travel agent. She travels all over the world and has been to nearly 100 countries and on each trip, she looks for miniature tea sets to add to her collection.

tea set collection

Many of the tea sets are whimsical.

Now with lockdown measures, she has taken to shopping more online and commissioning artists to make special tea sets.

"They are very unique and no one else would have them in the world," she said.

A new tea set could start as an idea Pilon sees online. She will then sketch out a rough design and find an artist who will make the set.

tea set collection

This Alice in Wonderland set was a special commission made by artist Elizabeth Betinha Murta.

One artist, Elizabeth Betinha Murta from Orlando, Florida, was too busy when she first asked, but after about six years, Pilon finally convinced her to make 13 tea sets, including a unique Alice in Wonderland themed set with a three-spout pot.

"After six years, she finally made me a tea set," said Pilon. "You have got to be persistent."

tea set collection

Each tea set is a work of art.

For Pilon, that is all part of the fun.

"The joy of collecting is the chase and the hunt so that's what makes it exciting for me and discovering new works of art."

Photos by

Eric Patrick Hong

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