FOUND > $20 Cracked Teapot Fetches $800,000

Historic Find Saved from the Trash

Owner bought the teapot online for $20.
FIND: Antique Teapot | Blue | Crane

March 23, 2018
By Ruthie Bowles, Contributing Author for What Sells Best News

SALISBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - Scott Reyburn of The New York Times reports that a rare cracked American teapot, purchased for $20, has stunned the antique world by selling for more than $800,000 at an English auction.

$20 SAVED IT FROM THE TRASH BIN

Based on the New York Times story, the teapot was cracked and its lid missing. That didn’t stop auction goers from driving the price up to astounding values. Considering the rarity of the teapot, they likely couldn’t help themselves.

According to reports, the $806,000 newly auctioned teapot sold for a mere $20, in an online antique auction in Lincolnshire, England. Clare Durham, the head of Woolley & Wallis’s English and European Ceramics Department,  believes that if it hadn’t been for that fateful auction bid, a trash can would’ve claimed the teapot.

Woolley & Wallis, the auctioneers, credited John Bartlam as the piece’s creator. He was a well-known Staffordshire-trained potter who created blue and white decorated soft paste porcelain at the Cain Hoy and Camden factories in South Carolina, USA in the 1760’s and 70’s.

John Bartlam Teapot talk by Nicholas Panes (Woolley & Wallis).

Staffordshire, UK became a hub for the creation and shipment of English ceramics. According to Antique Marks, the location was selected due to its close proximity to a Devonshire clay source and land and water transportation routes. Manufacturers established the first potteries at the beginning of the 18th century, and the massive production site grew from there.

Based on information from the Classically Camden, South Carolina website, John Bartlam and his family left Staffordshire because he believed he could offer wonderful porcelain to the American market without the added cost of shipping it across the Atlantic. They settled in Cain Hoy initially, and moved to Camden and opened a second factory there.

The success of the business allowed the family to thrive until the start of the Revolutionary War. Initially siding with the Rebels, Bartlam later joined the British Army after the American defeat at the Battle of Camden. His family left Camden when he died a year later and the British Army retreated to Charleston.

WHY IT’S RARE

Appraisers believe Bartlam created the blue and white teapot in the 1760’s, making it the oldest American teapot in existence. Adorned with two sandhill cranes beneath a Sabal palmetto tree, the teapot has an American slant due to the cranes and tree being indigenous to the Carolinas.

The Times article noted the mystery around why the only surviving Bartlam porcelain pieces have been discovered in the UK. Ms. Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, the curator in the American Decorative Arts in the American Wing of the Met, along with others, theorize that Bartlam sent a tea service to England to promote his products prior to the war. 

Following Revolutionary War excavations of the factory, researchers determined Bartlam’s porcelain to be the first produced in America. The better-known porcelain produced by Bonnin and Morris Wares from 1770-1772 in Philadelphia was thought to be the first porcelain to ever be created in America.

John Bartlam, America's First Porcelain Potter (Camden, SC Archives).

The Woolley & Wallis Auction House assessed the Bartlam Teapot as the oldest American-made porcelain teapot still in existence, inciting higher bidding.

COMPARABLE FINDS

Compared to other porcelain discoveries we’ve seen, this is an utterly amazing discovery and sale of an American porcelain piece. Normally, we see Chinese porcelain pieces sell for prices this high.

As you can see, the tiniest details matter when assessing valuable porcelain. If you believe you have discovered something, you should go to our free appraisals page and contact one of the experts listed there.

AUCTION INFORMATION

Roderick Jellicoe, a London dealer bidding on behalf of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York cast the winning bid in the room. He dueled intensely for 8 minutes with a private American dealer who bid by phone. Woolley & Wallis placed the presale estimate at £10,000 to £20,000.

Video fo the John Bartlam Teapot Auction (Woolley & Wallis).

MONITOR TEAPOT PRICES

To monitor the real-time price strength of more common teapots, keep an eye on the highest bid items in the pottery category, on eBay (below). To research the sold prices of rare or common teapots, click here.


FIND: Antique Teapot | Blue | Crane

RARE ART DECO SADLER ENGLAND YE DAINTEE LADYEE TEAPOT PINK CHINTZ CRINOLINE

High Bid: $549.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
1d 14h 56m


Shelley China Dainty Pink Teapot 32OZ

High Bid: $461.78
Bids: 6
Time Left:
3d 14h 39m


Lovely SHELLEY Rock Garden Teapot + Tea Cup & Saucer Set - Mint Green Floral

High Bid: $455.00
Bids: 2
Time Left:
2d 19h 17m


Shelley China Dainty Blue Teapot - 4 Cup

High Bid: $356.00
Bids: 21
Time Left:
18h 7m


Vintage Royal Winton Grimwades Teapot*Summertime*Chintz*1934-1950*Ascot Shape

High Bid: $249.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
23h 48m


Lomonosov Cobalt Net Russian Porcelain Tea Pot Creamer Sugar Cups Plates for Six

High Bid: $249.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
4d 12h 59m


Vintage Hawaiian Tepco Green Palm Leaf Teapot/Lid Restaraunt Ware

High Bid: $222.50
Bids: 8
Time Left:
1d 19h 51m


Vintage Sadler's cube emerald green with gold trim teapot dated "1922 CM in mint

High Bid: $205.00
Bids: 2
Time Left:
4d 15h 11m


Antique RK Richard Klemm Dresden Demitasse Coffeepot Teapot w Cups & Saucers 5pc

High Bid: $190.50
Bids: 7
Time Left:
2d 18h 39m


RS Prussia Morning Glory Mold Hand painted Enameled Tea Pot Creamer and Sugar

High Bid: $167.50
Bids: 5
Time Left:
3d 10h 2m


LIMOGES FRANCE TEAPOT CREAMER &SUGAR BOWL SET HEAVY GOLD ENCRUSTED

High Bid: $149.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
1d 9h 10m


Royal Crown Derby China - Red Aves A.74 - Large Teapot, Creamer, Sugar Bowl

High Bid: $149.99
Bids: 2
Time Left:
4d 17h 32m


RARE LOVELY HALL CHINA EVA ZEISEL MID-CENTURY MODERN TRI-TONE 6 CUP TEAPOT - NR

High Bid: $149.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
2d 17h 2m


Antique 19th Century Minton Blue Willow Transferware Gold Trimmed Tea Pot

High Bid: $127.50
Bids: 2
Time Left:
18h 52m


Wedgwood Teapot Etruria & Barlaston Queensware Celadon on Cream

High Bid: $123.59
Bids: 12
Time Left:
8h 46m


Royal Copenhagen Blue Fluted Half Lace #611  Tea Pot, 1st Quality

High Bid: $117.50
Bids: 3
Time Left:
5d 19h 40m


WEDGWOOD AMHERST TEA POT, Platinum Trim

High Bid: $115.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
3d 12h 45m


Clarice Cliff Bizarre Teapot Geometric Art Deco

High Bid: $100.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
4h 23m


Haviland Limoges France Porcelain Violets Coffee Chocolate Tea Pot

High Bid: $99.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
10h 51m


Vintage Royal Winton Cheadle 4 Cup Teapot, Sugar bowl, and Creamer

High Bid: $99.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
2d 14h 23m


Mackenzie-Childs Vintage Butterfly Teapot

High Bid: $99.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
13h 41m


Dennis China Works Sally TUFFIN Green Purple SUNFLOWER Teapot

High Bid: $95.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
1d 16h 46m


Herend China QUEEN VICTORIA Green Border 3412/VBA tea pot floral rabbit

High Bid: $95.00
Bids: 19
Time Left:
4d 15h 17m


Hall China Crocus All Drip Jordan Coffee pot Teapot

High Bid: $91.00
Bids: 2
Time Left:
2d 19h 53m


ANTIQ THOMAS AND SEVRES BAVARIA GERMANY TEAPOT CREAMER SUGAR YELLOW ROSES SIGNED

High Bid: $91.00
Bids: 2
Time Left:
4d 17h 25m