My first illy cup collection was Spirali. I bought it in 1998. And I foolishly sold it without knowing its value, in 1999. I did sell it for the price I paid, and I figured, wow - no depreciation! How foolish. My second set was Schwung, by Peter Roesch (the orange cup from that set is pictured at right). I got them at a "deal" price: $78 plus shipping for the box of six, with the can of illy coffee. Little did I know I'd be hooked for life.
Below you'll find some of my collection, from the years 1999 to 2004 and beyond. I have currently 29 unique sets (many doubles, some triples, giving me over 40 sets from between 1999 and 2004); however, it would take me a long time to photograph them all. Below you'll find an ever-growing photo gallery of the cups I own from this time period. I'll start off with the ones that have the most interesting stories, and try to present the cups as best I can. I hope you enjoy! (also, I note where I have duplicate sets, and if you want to trade or buy, contact me at email@example.com).
Photos of cups from 1999 to 2004
This is an ongoing process; I haven't photographed all my cups yet, but as I continue to document them, I'll list them below.
Coffee Flower Ideas Mugs, James Rosenquist (2004)
Wowsa. A new style of cup from illy - mugs. Deceptively small mugs too. To the rim, they hold only 8oz of liquid, but looking at the cups, you'd think they were 10, maybe even 12oz.
I have four boxes of these. Why? Because at $50 (or less - I've paid $35 for two of the four boxes), the fact that these are the first ever "mug" cups and are of course signed and numbered. I don't know how many illy are making, but there's only four digit "spots" on the bottom of the cups, suggesting a maximum of 9999 cups.
Translation: I think these will be worth a ton in five or ten years.
I also like these cups. They are my "latte" cups - big, but not too big. They also are stealthy and sneaky - yer typical American "big gulp" lover would probably take a fancy pants "expresso" drink in these cups, thinking they were getting 8, 10oz of milk; in reality, they are getting only 5 or 6oz of milk and 1 to 2 oz of espresso. Heh heh heh heh.
Dreams and Conflicts, Francesco Bonami (2003)
This is a cup that seems to appeal to other people a lot more than it does to me. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a cool single cup, and it also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Bienniale Venezio. It's also very thick, a good thing. However, I don't think it's the most unique illy collections cup.
But others think so. When I had this cup out, doing photos with it, people were remarking on how cool it looked. People always asked "why is the conflicts word upside down?" People were saying "the colours are soooooo coooool!"
It is also the smallest package that illy has presented a cup in, at least in the last 10 years or so.
And I have something extra special. There were bar cups done in this style as well. There's four colour combinations. I have two sets of two colours right now, and another two sets of two colours are on the way. These are just about the thickest cups illy has ever released. I give a huge thumbs up to the physical design, and I think the bar cups actually look a bit nicer than the "collection" single cup.