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

Cat birds teapot folk art sculpture pottery by face jug maker Mitchell Grafton

High Bid: $1,009.05
Bids: 15
Time Left:
3d 21h 23m


Antique JKW Carlsbad TeaCup Saucer teapot creamer Love Story Fragonard 24k Gold

High Bid: $600.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
4d 21h 23m


BEAUTIFUL SCHUMANN DRESDEN FLOWERS GOLD SWAGS TEA POT CREAMER SUGAR SET & TRAY

High Bid: $299.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
1d 20h 36m


Vintage Royal Albert Lady Ascot Teapot

High Bid: $252.49
Bids: 2
Time Left:
3d 13h 50m


27 PIECE SHELLEY CHINA RIBBED BEGONIA PATTERN TEA LUNCHEON LUNCH SET w/ TEAPOT

High Bid: $193.50
Bids: 4
Time Left:
4d 15h 12m


Herend Morning Glory Limited Edition Teapot 2608 + Box and Certificate

High Bid: $155.00
Bids: 2
Time Left:
3d 17h 6m


Herend Rachael Blue Clover Flower Large Teapot 1604 TCB

High Bid: $149.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
3d 18h 8m


Winchester Teapot by Johnson Bros. Made in England (Cat.#6B084)

High Bid: $149.50
Bids: 1
Time Left:
7d 21h


R S Prussia Chocolate/Tea Pot - Gorgeous Mold - Floral Motif - w/ Gold - Signed

High Bid: $129.95
Bids: 1
Time Left:
1d 19h 32m


Shelley Teapot Regency white and gold England

High Bid: $125.50
Bids: 3
Time Left:
1d 10h 42m


Antique Rorstrand Sweden Majolica Teapot 1800’s

High Bid: $119.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
4d 15h 35m


Rae Dunn Very Rare HOME Tall Teapot Black Wildflowers And Jar With Lid

High Bid: $103.50
Bids: 3
Time Left:
2d 19h 22m


NIPPON UNMARKED TEA SET 17 PCS TEAPOT CREAM SUGAR 6 CUPS/SAUCERS PORCELAIN

High Bid: $99.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
5d 9h 50m


Booth's REAL OLD WILLOW - TEAPOT with LID - Discontinued in 1910

High Bid: $89.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
4d 23h 54m


~ Patricia Garrett Great Impressions Studio Art Pottery Acorn Squash Teapot ~

High Bid: $88.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
14h 31m


Vintage Shelley Fine Bone China England Lily Of The Valley 13822 Teapot

High Bid: $86.00
Bids: 11
Time Left:
4d 20h 56m


Royal Albert Old Country Roses Delivery Truck With China Goods Teapot

High Bid: $81.00
Bids: 33
Time Left:
2d 20h 47m


Royal Crown Derby Royal St James Large Tea Pot with Creamer and Sugar Bowl Set

High Bid: $77.00
Bids: 2
Time Left:
4d 18h 37m


Rare 1907 J Pouyat Limoges Teapot, Creamer And Sugar Porcelain Dish Set

High Bid: $69.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
3d 14h 19m


Royal Copenhagen Blue Fluted Full Lace Chocolate Coffee Tea Pot #1026 Mint Cond.

High Bid: $67.00
Bids: 32
Time Left:
4d 21h 22m


Wonderful Griffen, Smith & Hill "Etruscan" Majolica Teapot at No Reserve!

High Bid: $59.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
18h 55m


Hall/China Spec. Autumn Leaf, 60th Anniversary Car Teapot, 1993 Ltd. Ed., MINT!!

High Bid: $55.05
Bids: 7
Time Left:
1d 21h 55m


Jean Pouyat Limoges Ornate Tea Pot Beautifully Designed J.P. L. France 1912

High Bid: $52.00
Bids: 2
Time Left:
3d 20h 22m


Antique Yelloware Yellow ware Yellowware Naughty Toby Teapot Excellent condition

High Bid: $52.00
Bids: 2
Time Left:
4d 20h 22m


VINTAGE Johnson Brothers OLDE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE Tea Pot

High Bid: $51.00
Bids: 2
Time Left:
1d 21h 59m