This porcelain dessert service made by the Minton manufactory in England was one of the highlights of the Great Exhibition in London of 1851. Comprising 116 pieces, the service won the highest prize for its aesthetic quality. Queen Victoria purchased the service and sent part of it (sixty-nine pieces) as a gift of friendship to Emperor Franz Joseph.
Consisting of unglazed biscuit porcelain figures and small custard cups, the Minton Dessert Service was never used at the Austrian court because of its susceptibility to breakage. The fragility of the material – for example, the Parian porcelain used for the figures – made this luxury product unsuitable for use and by 1860 the service was listed under the new heading of ‘Antiquities and Rarities’ in the inventory of the Silver Chamber.