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 ROYAL ALBERT "SENORITA" BONE CHINA TEA POT WITH LID - MADE IN ENGLAND

High Bid: $970.00
Bids: 7
Time Left:
3d 5h 31m


Vintage Shelley England Dainty Blue Teapot

High Bid: $249.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
2d 6h 46m


ANTIQUE R S PRUSSIA TEA POT, CREAMER, SUGAR BOWL

High Bid: $199.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
2d 8h 21m


V FINE ROYAL CROWN DERBY DERBY PANEL GREEN PATTERN LARGE TEAPOT TEA POT A1237

High Bid: $174.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
9d 49m


Antique Dresden Porcelain Small Teapot Floral's Gold With bacces head on Spout

High Bid: $157.50
Bids: 4
Time Left:
2d 12h 30m


c1863-1890 Belleek Ireland 1st Black Mark Bamboo Teapot *RARE*

High Bid: $150.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
1d 21h 36m


JB Cole, Waymon Cole Aladdin Lamp Teapot

High Bid: $150.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
5d 4h 39m


Shelley China Dainty Shape Small Teapot W Lid Bridal Rose Pattern

High Bid: $126.26
Bids: 10
Time Left:
3d 9h 15m


Royal Albert Lady Ascot Turquoise Teapot

High Bid: $105.50
Bids: 13
Time Left:
18h 43m


Royal Doulton Brambly Hedge Teapot & Lid Full Size Tea Service

High Bid: $102.50
Bids: 7
Time Left:
35m 46s


Cardew Design Two Cup Tea Pot (RARE)

High Bid: $99.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
2d 3h 17m


MINTON B833 Hand Painted TEAPOT - SCARCE! MINT! England

High Bid: $92.00
Bids: 2
Time Left:
3d 1h 13m


DESIRABLE MINTON MAJOLICA CHINAMAN TEA POT, TEAPOT- NO RESERVE!

High Bid: $89.00
Bids: 5
Time Left:
3d 20h 45m


HARTLEY GREENS Leeds Pottery Creamware Pierced TEA POT w/Flower Finial

High Bid: $89.00
Bids: 2
Time Left:
4d 5h 59m


ROYAL ALBERT BLOSSOM TIME TEAPOT

High Bid: $79.99
Bids: 2
Time Left:
1d 8h 30m


Pipestone Mimbreno Burgundy Teapot Tea Pot Santa Fe Dining Car Hall China Co.

High Bid: $79.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
2d 6h 31m


Mottahedeh teapot -Blue and white Indigo pattern, excellent condition 

High Bid: $68.50
Bids: 1
Time Left:
2d 22h 50m


1890's CHARLES FIELD HAVILAND CFH GDM LIMOGES FRANCE TEAPOT-SUGAR-CREAMER Flower

High Bid: $68.50
Bids: 1
Time Left:
9d 4h 36m


Royal Albert Old Country Roses Teapot Creamer and Sugar Bowl

High Bid: $68.07
Bids: 1
Time Left:
2d 17h 30m


Antique Flow Blue Tea Pot marked S

High Bid: $66.00
Bids: 3
Time Left:
1d 2h 41m


Antique Limoges Haviland Pink Flora & Gold Chocolate Pot, Coffee Pot, Tea Pot 9”

High Bid: $65.00
Bids: 8
Time Left:
3d 4h 25m


Russian Lomonosov Porcelain Teapot Bright Folky Stylised Rooster

High Bid: $65.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
4d 2h 52m


Vintage Royal China Currier & Ives Pink Red Transferware Tea Pot Teapot

High Bid: $59.99
Bids: 2
Time Left:
7h


Rae Dunn STEEP Teapot Large Letter New

High Bid: $57.50
Bids: 13
Time Left:
4d 7h 2m


VINTAGE SHELLEY CHINA DAINTY BLUE PATTERN FLORAL TEAPOT TEA POT

High Bid: $56.00
Bids: 7
Time Left:
3d 3h 20m