We’ve been studying teapots since seeing several shards and intact examples on our tour of 18th century historic sites through Pennsylvania and Ohio last year, and eventually hope to find a few examples to add to our collection.
Perhaps the best known maker of pineapple ware and cauliflower ware was Thomas Whieldon (1719-1795). His early pieces were so good and so enduring that later reproductions came to be called generically whieldon ware. He was well respected and had risen to the rank of master potter by 1740. He produced coffee pots, tea pots, pitchers, bowls, plates, tea caddies, cow creamers, figurines, etc., all bearing his trademark glazing style.
Through a connection to Whieldon others learned the craft and contributed their own styles. Josiah Spode began his career as an employee of Whieldon and Josiah Wedgwood was a partner of Whieldon.
In 1740, Mr. Thomas Whieldon’s manufactory at Little Fenton, consisted of a small range of low buildings, all thatched. His early productions, were knife hafts, for the Sheffield Cutlers; and Snuff Boxes, for the Birmingham Hardwaremen, to finish with hoops, hinges, and springs; which himself usually carried in a basket to the tradesmen; and being much like agate, they were greatly in request…. He also made black glazed tea and coffee pots, Tortoiseshell and melon table plates, (with ornamented edge, and six scallops, as in the specimens kept by Andrew Boon, of the Honeywall, Stoke;) and other useful articles….. Shaw, Simeon. History of the Staffordshire Potteries. 1829.
Whieldon’s goods were sold in Europe and America. Colonial Williamsburg found pieces of Whieldon’s tortoise shell, pineapple, cauliflower, and agate pieces during an archaeological dig at the Mrs. Campbell’s Coffee House area.
By the 19th century, the Cauliflower and Pineapple wares were widely reproduced in England and America, along with other patterns including fruit, vegetables, leaves and berries. The Shawnee teapot made to resemble yellow corn with green leaves is commonly found and much resembles Whieldon’s pineapple design from the 18th century.
The later 19th century designs sometimes have background designs of basketry, intertwined leaves and flowers, etc. Handles began to resemble twigs or branches, rose stems, etc.
The Minton Co. began to produce wares patterned after the cauliflower and pineapple designs of Thomas Whieldon and exhibited such wares under the name Palissy ware at the Great Exhibition in 1851. The Illustrated London News reported that within a few days of opening, the wares had all been sold. The process of colouring by a transparent glaze rather than the colour being in the material itself seems to have made them more affordable for the masses.
Designs for plates, jugs, coffee and tea pots of cabbage leaves, strawberries with leaves, flowers, ferns, etc. were made prior to 1841, and later 19th century designs included shells, bamboo stalks, coral, seaweed, etc.
Interestingly, it seems that coffeepots and teapots sometimes had lids of metal which would make it much easier to replace a lid were it to be broken, or if an otherwise intact pot is found on the market while retaining the period integrity of a useable piece.
The following are Whieldon pieces from the mid-18th century. There are examples of pineapple ware, cauliflower ware, agate ware (swirled designs made from different color clays), cow creamers, plates, bowls, mugs, pitchers, teapots, coffeepots, etc.