Teapot Collectors Unite!
By: Victoria Hamilton
I’ve loved tea since I was a very young child, when my ‘tea’ was mostly milk and sugar with a bit of tea to warm it up. Since then I’ve been fascinated by tea and teapots, all kinds of teapots! Though space prohibits me from collecting as many as I’d like, I do have fifteen – not including my tiny teapot collection, which numbers another six or so - and it’s an eclectic mix, with everything from a vintage Cornflower Pyrex pot, reflecting my love of vintage kitchenalia, to my favorite, a lovely red transferware teapot, showing my adoration of china patterns.
But why do folks collect teapots? I really don’t have an answer for that, so I went looking. What makes china manufacturers produce such an array of all kinds of teapots, and why do folks collect them?
First, why so many types of teapots? There are figural, representations of people like the Queen; animals, like chickens and bunnies; vehicles, like fire engines and tugboats; fairy tale characters; cartoon characters; food, like cakes and grapes; and even commemorative buildings. There are teapots that look like a tea table set for tea, with a tiny teapot on top. There are teapots that just look like teapots but have different patterns: transferware, chintz, unique glazes. There are ceremonial teapots, Art Deco silver and silver clad with Bakelite handles, brass and bronze and valuable Yixing clay teapots.
And therein lies, I think, at least a part of the answer. There are teapots for every interest, from antiques to cutesy, and so teapot makers keep producing them. I kind of accidentally stumbled into collecting teapots and milk jugs in the shape of cats because I love cats, and so keep getting them as gifts. But I do adore teapots, and perhaps at least some of that is because of my history as a tea drinker from childhood. I’m a devoted homebody; just the act of making a pot of tea is soothing, and so is the connotation of it. If you’re cold, or tired, or not feeling well, doesn’t it make you feel better when someone says “I’ll make us a pot of tea.” One teapot just wouldn’t be enough, and even when they are primarily a decorative item, they still connote home and comfort.
But then, why collect so many? Well, there is a dearth of writing on that topic, but from personal observation I’d say collecting of any kind seems to be something you’re either born to do, or have a complete lack of interest in. I collect teapots, but also, even more, teacups, of which I have, probably, fifty sets or so. I collect cat figurines and cat jewelry. I collect Barbie dolls, junk jewelry, books and… you get the point. It’s a struggle to keep on the ‘collector’ side of the line and not move to ‘hoarder’.
One thing I can guarantee, I will never get to the point of the woman in Yalding, Kent in the UK, who has over 6000, and had to open up a teashop/museum called Teapot Island to display them! They even have a Facebook page: Teapot Island.
But I will share a few of my favorites from my collection, a chicken teapot (some of my family are egg producers), a miniature from my tiny teapot collection, (the blue and green striped one; it really is tiny, about as big as the palm of my hand) and my favorite of all time, a red transferware teapot I bought at a shop in a town where resides my favorite tearoom. I’ll write about the Sparta House Tea Room and their magnificent collection of teapots next time.
So though I have no real inkling why collecting teapots is so soothing, I’ve given in to the madness. Teapot collectors, unite! And join me for tea. We’ll win the others over, one pretty pot at a time.
Victoria Hamilton writes the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries about collecting vintage kitchenalia; as well, the main character of her other series, Merry Muffin Mysteries, collects teapot! As Amanda Cooper, Hamilton also writes the Teapot Collector Mysteries; her most recent release is The Grim Steeper.
You can find her online at:
Victoria Hamilton Mysteries: http://www.victoriahamiltonmysteries.com
Victoria Hamilton/Amanda Cooper Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorVictoriaHamilton