Ahhhhhhhh illy collection cups. How sweet. See, espresso isn't just a beverage to me. It's not science either. At least not entirely. No, espresso is art to me. Art and science, fused together in harmony.
illy collection cups embody this fusion of science and art. They provide the near ideal canvas for a true God shot* of espresso (though they could be a bit thicker - check out this article I wrote on illy cups and thick porcelain). And while there are bumps in the road (I have my own opinions about which cups constitute "art" and which ones constitute "art for art's sake"), illy really has brought about a tangible, visible fusion between art and science in espresso.
My 1991-1999 collection is a bit sparse, compared to my 1999-2005 collection (I have 10 sets from the 91 - 99 era, and 40 sets from 99 - 05), but the collection continues to grow. Check out some of my choice sets below, along with some stories on how I obtained the cups.
Prima Collezione - Simone Meentzen (1993 labled, 1994 vintage)
My oldest set, I only recently (May 2004) obtained this through eBay.
The set is in almost mint collection, but is missing one of the saucers. What's weird is that the saucers are smaller in diameter as compared to most later collection cup sets.
Also, the cups are officially from 1994, but inside, they all read "illy collection 1993". I guess they are like a hockey season version of illy cups - 1993-94...
Here's each cup:
The cups aren't numbered, and they are signed on the artwork (later on, all collection cups would be signed on the bottom, along with individual numbering). I picked these up for a very good price: 155 Euros.
Videogrammi, Nam June Paik, (1996)
I've wanted this set for some time. Paik is a famous modern artist who creates what can be best described as "video sculptures". You can see the influence in these cups, which are treated like tiny television screens.These are also some of the most colourful cups in the entire illy lineup.
I picked these up in May 2004 as well, paying about 145 Euros for them. They didn't include the two cans of illy coffee in the gift box, but fortunately I have a box of 12 "vintage" illy cans (the older, dark brown style), so two of the vintage cans went into this box to complete the set.
Here is each cup:
There's a seventh cup as well, ultra rare. I hope to get it one day. I think Paik is a very impressive artist, and he's used the illy cup canvas to its fullest.
More to come soon!