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Antiques Considered - September 9, 2009

This week we have a Chinese Export teapot from a family in Northumberland County.  It came from an estate sale, on the last day when prices had been reduced.  The owner assumed it had not sold because the handle had been repaired, and bought it for $5.
This teapot dates from the early 19th century, a time when the citizens of the young Republic were achieving a level of affluence whereby they could afford to import from China.  Most people considered having Chinese export pieces in their homes to be a mark of distinction. Certainly this piece was part of a larger tea service.
The repair is typical of that done in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in that it consists of using metal staples and a composition to hold the sections together.  The process was quite expensive, and it too connoted an indication of a family's wealth.  From the appearance of the repair, I would surmise that it was done to make the piece useful once again, rather than merely to make it look better when displayed.
Chinese Export is a term which describes the porcelain made in China for export to America or Europe.  The texture of the make-up and the smoothness of the finish were pleasing to foreign eyes and soon makers in England began copying the Chinese.  Lowestoft became the center of British manufacture of Chinese-style china.
In perfect condition this 1810 teapot would be worth $400, but the repair eviscerates that sum, despite having cost dearly itself.  As is, the value is $90, but on the right day at the right auction a knowledgeable collector might go higher.  The perfect pieces are few in number and are competitive in any market where they appear.  I have sold good teapots for as much as $700.
Happy antiquing!

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