It was at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts that I first fell in love with antique teapots. Their dining room is surrounded by a shelf placed about a foot or two below the ceiling on which sit the finest collection of teapots I have ever seen. There must be hundreds of them! I don’t doubt that the Red Lion’s teapot collection is quite valuable, especially compared to the one I have since accumulated for myself.
Collecting teapots can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be. There is “antique,” such as the $975.00 fine china Meissen piece that I recently saw at auction; and then there is antique, as in “I picked up a pretty little Red Transferware teapot for $69 00 on eBay.” My collection is mostly made up of the latter. But , no matter what your investment, they do look pretty sitting on a shelf, and as time goes by, you may find yourself in a position to purchase some of the more valuable pieces.
Antique teapots are made in a wide variety of materials, from fine porcelain to stoneware to silver or pewter. Each has its own distinct charms. Some of these teapots are quite elaborate. They are often handmade and come bearing such familiar names as Spode, Haviland, Royal Doulton, Wedgewood, Copeland and such. These, of course, will be your higher end teapots. I have found some pretty ones also made by Mikasa and Johnson Brothers and Nippon that are more in my price range.
Some good places to look for your teapots are estate and garage sales, second hand shops and antique malls. Sometimes when you buy locally they even come with a story, such as the lady who sold me the teapot her great aunt had wrapped in a pillow case and, together, she and that Haviland teapot had ridden out a tornado, huddled in a closet of her home. The closet survived and so did the teapot. That was an estate sale and the lady said she was just happy it was going to a “good home.”
I find a lot of antique teapots on eBay and Etsy , as well as some more modern ones that are just too unique to pass up. One of my favorites is my hand-painted M.A. Hadley teapot. M.A. Hadley is a company out of Kentucky, related to the Louisville Pottery Company. All of her pottery products are hand-painted with cute little pictures of a man or a woman, a horse, a pig, a house – very simple, almost childish drawings in blues and grays. They’re very much in demand.
If you’re going to collect antique teapots, you would be wise to get acquainted with the various makers marks and other imprints so you know how to verify their authenticity. There are many fakes and reproductions out there and they can be very convincingly made. There are numerous reference books on the subject also to help you learn these marks and about the different materials used to create these works of art. Try your local library – and have fun!