Illy Collector Cups
Before 1992 the espresso cups available were either plain or only had a company logo. Then illy caffe came up with the idea to combine art and espresso. They commissioned Matteo Thun to design the first cup. He created what Francesco Illy, the then owner of illy caffe, considered a simple, but perfect cup. From that point on espresso cups have become a collectors item.
To many people collecting these espresso cups is like collecting art. Each series of cups has its own artist and design. The artists instill their own personal style using different colors and designs. It has become very popular in the art world to design your own cup collection. This has also given new artists another way to get their name and art available to the public.
Each company has their own system of numbering. The numbering limits the time periods and quantities available for sale. All of the illy collector cups and saucers are signed and numbered on the bottom of the cup and saucer. Inside of the cup it says “illy collection”. Any of the cups that are part of a bar set (used in restaurants, etc) say “illy espresso” and are not signed or numbered. The FrancisFrancis! cups and saucers are also signed and numbered by the artists. Saeco cups are signed on the bottom of the cup. All collector cups are sold in a special display boxes, and some even come with coffee.
Because of the popularity, sets of older series are very expensive and hard to locate. Once a series is no longer available through a retailer they can only be traded or sold by collectors making the price go up. For example, the Trazzine set of cups is for sale by one collector for $700. This series was originally available for purchase in 1994 for approximately $109. Luca Trazzi designed the cup and the saucer for illy. Browse our Cups Page to see all series of illy espresso cups that we carry. You can also visit the illy & amici collection site to see all collections past and present. So, the next time you see a nice set of cups, with a premium price tag, remember all of the creativity and work put into each cup.