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

Royal Copenhagen Blue Fluted Full Lace Gargoyle Teapot 1118 -- Perfect Condition

High Bid: $760.00
Bids: 35
Time Left:
23h 26m


VINTAGE MASON'S IRONSTONE CHINA KETTLE SQUARE TEAPOT & FOOTER VISTA ENGLAND

High Bid: $222.88
Bids: 1
Time Left:
1d 13h 32m


Vintage Original FIESTA - MEDIUM GREEN Medium Teapot & Lid,

High Bid: $200.50
Bids: 10
Time Left:
2d 17h 26m


Vtg Estate Lot R.S. PRUSSIA Floral Porcelain Teapot Cream Sugar Set Teacups

High Bid: $159.50
Bids: 14
Time Left:
1h 36m


Wedgewood Strawberry Dinner Salad Plates Soup Teapot Teacups Cream Sugar ++

High Bid: $158.13
Bids: 36
Time Left:
17h 57m


Sadler Sophie Chintz Teapot, Creamer, Sugar, Cups, Saucers, Service

High Bid: $140.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
2d 17h 37m


Rae Dunn Boutique Red Line Teapot Large Letter (New Release) Rare & HTF - NEW!!!

High Bid: $118.50
Bids: 7
Time Left:
5d 22h 6m


Herend Hungary Porcelain Rothschild Bird 3 Piece Tea Set Teapot, Creamer, Sugar

High Bid: $114.50
Bids: 6
Time Left:
8d 16h 8m


Siegele & Haley Buzzard Mountin Studio Art Pottery Teapot 1991 Earthtones

High Bid: $101.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
8d 50m


RAE DUNN MAGENTA M STAMPED OG "TEA" TEAPOT

High Bid: $99.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
3d 18h 41m


Early 19th C. Staffordshire Dark Blue Lidded Teapot & Sugar Bowl, Adams

High Bid: $75.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
13h 15m


Norway Porsgrund Tea Set, Farmers Rose, 27 Pieces(Tea pot, cr/sugar, 12 cp/sau)

High Bid: $75.00
Bids: 2
Time Left:
3d 13h 14m


Vintage Delft Blue & White Teapot with Pewter Mounted Lid Made in Holland

High Bid: $75.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
4d 22h 16m


Antique Roseville U.S.A. Art Pottery 7-T Zephyr White Lily Matte Blue Teapot Old

High Bid: $70.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
6d 41m


Royal Albert Lavender Rose Teapot Warmer- England

High Bid: $69.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
11h 49m


Denby Baroque Teapot With Lid

High Bid: $65.00
Bids: 1
Time Left:
1d 21h 10m


ROYAL ALBERT GILDED GOLD ANTOINETTE 5 CUP TEAPOT

High Bid: $63.15
Bids: 1
Time Left:
4d 18h 29m


Johnson Brothers “Strawberry Fair” Porcelain Teapot, Made in England

High Bid: $60.00
Bids: 2
Time Left:
1d 1h 29m


ROYAL ALBERT FINE CHINA Old Country Roses TEAPOT, CUPS LOT 1962 Made in England.

High Bid: $60.00
Bids: 2
Time Left:
5d 20h 19m


Rare Fiesta Homer Laughlin Fourth of July 2 Cup Teapot

High Bid: $59.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
4d 36m


Haviland Limoges Baltimore Rose Teapot

High Bid: $57.00
Bids: 6
Time Left:
7d 15h 26m


Rare Collectible Cardew design ~ Infusion Sewing Machine Teapot Large 12”x9” EXC

High Bid: $50.95
Bids: 2
Time Left:
12h 27m


ROYAL WINTON OLD COTTAGE CHINTZ TEAPOT & SUGAR & CREAMER BEAUTIFUL ENGLAND NR

High Bid: $49.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
5d 22h 59m


Early Meissen Harbor Scene Teapot Trivet Hot Plate Antique Porcelain Tea Tile

High Bid: $49.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
5d 23h 56m


Funkware Studio Art Pottery Hand Thrown Frog teapot set 2 Mugs Jablonski Signed

High Bid: $49.99
Bids: 1
Time Left:
8d 3h 33m