Antiques column: Novelty teapots were well established by the 19th century

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Everybody enjoys a cup of tea. The British love affair with tea has produced an enormous variety of interesting collectables, but none as ingenious and imaginative as the novelty teapots that have been made since the 18th century.

Some have been potted in unusual shapes, others just painted and decorated, but all have been fashioned to resemble something other than a humble teapot.

Staffordshire potteries produced them in the shapes of houses, camels, squirrels and monkeys in the 1730s, when tea drinking was still a very expensive pastime and customers were prepared to pay for conversation pieces. Tea was often locked away to ensure this expensive commodity was protected.

In 1759, Josiah Wedgwood and his partner. Thomas Whieldon, produced globular teapots realistically potted and painted as cabbages, cauliflowers, melons and pineapples. They proved so successful that other factories copied them, without achieving the same fine results. The latter are fairly frequently seen in the saleroom.

By the 19th century, novelty teapots were well established pieces. Some of the best were made from moulded and richly glazed majolica, especially by the Minton factory, while the Irish firm, Belleek, made shell shaped teapots in delicate porcelain with a pearly lustre.

Chris Clubley and Co are still inviting entries for their catalogued antique sales on 7 March 2015.