Antique Chinese porcelain small teapot with original cover from the late Qing (aka Ch’ing) Dynasty and the reign of Daoguang, a reign that spans 1821 to 1850, hence the c1835 mid-date. This teapot is hand painted in underglaze cobalt blue with a motif of stylized spiraling vines and large petal flowers, sometimes referred to as pea flowers (see Photos 1 and 2). The glaze projects a slight celadon-like greenish tinge which also helps accentuate the underglaze blue (Photos 3, 4 and 7). The teapot listed here is from a time period where fewer Chinese wares were exported to the west as Blue & White porcelain fell out of favor among the middle class. Versions of the motif on this teapot occurs of larger vessel forms, particularly vases and garniture sets in the late 1800s with additional elements not found on the earlier wares. This is discussed again further below.
This is a small teapot in comparison to the typical early 1800s English or Continental Europe teapot. It holds at most just one cup of tea (a maximum 8.75 fluid ounces) even if overfilled right up to its very top. However, when this pot was in use, few folks would have filled it with more than 7 ounces of liquid. Consequently, one might call this a widow’s or bachelor’s teapot following some of the labels used by British households when referring to small Staffordshire teapots from the late 1700s that held just one cup. Photo 9 shows another Staffordshire engine turned small Bachelor’s teapot in refined redware that dates from about 1770 for comparison only. The redware teapot is not for sale at this time. Only the Chinese teapot shown in the first 8 photos is for sale in this listing.
As noted above, this porcelain tea pot has its original cover that is also decorated with leafy vine sprouts but in a more abbreviated form (Photos 2 and 8). The border around the top of the teapot is a chain of stylized whorls (Photo 5) whereas the border at the bottom of the pot is made up of a row of simplified spear heads (Photo 2). Concentric double rings in underglaze blue encircle the cover at the base of the cover’s finial and also along its outer most edge (Photos 1 and 8). There is another set of double rings encircling just below the teapot’s rim as well as a fourth set at the bottom of the pot that are set further apart and define the lower section of the pot (Photos 1 and 2).
This teapot displays other attributes that correspond with traditional Chinese porcelain production. For example, prior to being placed in the kiln for firing, the glaze was wiped clean from the foot ring, as well as from the top edge and interior side of the rim, and also from the entire underside of the cover (Photos 3, 4, and 5). Also, there is some roughness exhibited along the footring where grains of sand have been detached (see Photo 3). Coarse sand grains were used to help keep the teapot from sticking to surfaces while it was being fired in the kiln. A couple of these sand grains also removed small chips from the foot ring when they were knocked off after the teapot was removed from the kiln.
Other production methods include the use of a brownish orange iron-oxide wash to coat the unglazed top edge of the rim and some of the unglazed sections of the foot ring (Photos 3, 4). Some of this brownish wash may have also run down the side of teapot, too and this can be seen Photos 5 and 6 (see also the Condition notes below for further details). Finally, this teapot’s handle and spout shapes are more characteristic of older oriental pots and some Staffordshire teapots of the mid 1700s than those from the mid 1800s. The comparatively plain and chunky handle is merely a loop made from a piece of hand rolled clay while the spout is taken from a two piece mold and has a distinct right angle shape.
As for a full history of the spiral leafy vine motif exhibited on this teapot, that has yet to be compiled. Sometimes, this ware has been referred to as Nonya or Shanghai Ware by collectors of 19th century Oriental blue and white porcelain. The leafy vine pattern itself probably has roots back to the Ming period. In the 1780s, Worcester and Spode produced a blue floral pattern that has an alternating curly vine with short leaf tendrils set in panels. This pattern is called the Lily Pattern or Royal Lily, and if its leafy vine was repositioned in spirals and one ignored the aster-like flowers, this English pattern would be very similar to the spiral vines on this teapot. However, the changes needed to form the similarity are too imperfect to tie the two patterns to a single antecedent.
Other types of scrolling and spiraling foliage were fashionable in the 1700s and occur on Qianlong export porcelain. More detailed examples can be seen in the 2004 publication titled ‘Miller's Guide to Chinese & Japanese Antiques’ where several vases with scrolling foliage and lotus flowers are illustrated (see page 47 in the 2004 Miller's Guide to Chinese & Japanese Antiques edited by Peter Wain, contributing editor). In the 1800s, less detailed and more stylized flowers and vines were used and this teapot shows how quickly the motifs were painted compared to much older examples that were labored over with greater detail. Even the chain-like border below the rim on this teapot is painted using fewer brush strokes than similar border motifs found on much older Qianlong export wares.
In summary, this hand painted scrolling spiral leafy vine motif became popular on some Chinese export wares sent to the west in the 1820s, 1830s and 1840s. It remained a fashionable export style well into the late 1800s with but a gap in production in the mid 1800s. The gap was caused by the sacking and destruction of the kilns in Jingdezen during the Tai Ping Rebellion. The porcelain kilns were not rebuilt until 1864. At some point well after the production resumed, vessels decorated with this scrolling spiral vine and pea flower motif also begin to include double happiness symbols, called Shuangxi. This shift in composition to include Shuangxi symbols seems to become very fashionable by 1885 and remained popular well into the 20th century. Esten, Fischell and Wahlund illustrate a garniture set made up of a covered jar and pair of beakers dating from the late 19th century (Qing Dynasty) that also have this same spiraling foliage and Peony design along with the double happiness symbols on them (see Esten, Fischell and Wahlund’s book titled ‘Blue & White China: Origins / Western Influences,’ published in 1987 by Little Brown & Company, Boston, page 128 for examples).
In summary, this is a wonderful antique Late Qing Chinese teapot with original cover from a time period that is less well understood than those exported to the west in the previous century. It is decorated with a spiraling leaf vine with pea flower motif that was once popular in the early to mid 1800s. So if you enjoy collecting Late Qing blue & white porcelain that was once exported to the US, then you may want to consider purchasing this teapot while it is still available. And as always, this antique hand painted teapot and cover also come with my Docs Antiques 100% satisfaction guarantee or you may return them using my return policy for a refund (teapot and cover sold as a single lot and therefore must be returned together, see full Return Policy details farther below). The buyer also has the option to ask for a customized lay-away plan for purchasing this teapot (and other Doc’s Antiques items when combining orders) by simply requesting the lay-away terms you wish to use and then let Doc take care of setting it up and combining any items together as desired (payment installments may be modified at any time should the unexpected ever arise, just let me know by email and I’ll change the due dates).
SIZE: The teapot stands about 3 inches tall with the cover off and measures just 3 7/8 inches tall when the cover is seated in place. It has footring diameter of 2 1/2 inches and a rim opening diameter of about 1 3/4 inches. The teapot measures about 5 5/8 inches wide from outer most handle edge across to outer most spout tip. The cover has a maximum outer diameter of 2 1/16 inches and an inner cover ring diameter of just 1 1/4 inches (see Photo 3 for style of cover ring on the underside of the cover). This small teapot is a perfect size for displaying on a shelf, table or mantle and will certainly capture interest and attention in most any setting.
CONDITION: This teapot and its cover are in good condition with just a couple of minor declarations to mentioned that keep it from being perfect. The teapot has no cracks, hairlines, deep scratches or large chips. There are three tiny glaze chips on the teapot (two on the foot ring due to removal of kiln sand and one on the rim of the spout, Photos 3, 5, and 7), and two small chips on the cover (Photos 2 and 8). The chips on the foot ring are likely a by-product of firing where the teapot stuck to some kiln furniture or adjacent vessels (see Photo 1). The chip on the cover that shows when the cover is in place has some cosmetic restoration where the portion of the blue design has been restored using reversible methods (the missing blue parts are sympathetically drawn right on the exposed porcelain body and then covered with a reversible sealer should anyone wish to have the chip professionally restored). A pencil points to this cosmetic restoration which is not readily apparent unless viewed up close (compare Photos 2 and 8). The other chip on the cover is not visible unless the cover is turned upside down (see Photos 2 and 3). Finally, there is a patch of light brown wash running down from the rim that may represent some drippings of the brown iron-oxide wash used to color the rim. This brown patch is shown in Photo 6 and is slightly less visible to the naked eye than to the camera. That is it and a better example of a spiral leafy vine and pea flower teapot would be hard to find without paying a lot more than what is asked here. Of course, if the buyer is not completely satisfied, then she/he may return this teapot along with its cover for a refund as explained below (see our complete refund policy noted next).
SHIPPING: All US mainland buyers pay $10.70 for well packed USPS Priority Mail and this is an estimated savings of $2 to $5 since insurance and tracking are INCLUDED in this amount. That is, the insured postage you pay for delivery in the US is always less than our actual costs or we refund the difference back to you, and there are never any handling or packing fees added to any of your Docs Antiques purchases, ever. All international buyers will also pay less than the actual shipping costs for all verifiable locations outside the Continental US mainland. Send us your address and we will email you up to four options for sending this item to your country. We only use the USPS for International shipping to reduce broker fees and certain Custom’s charges when an item is over 100 years old and the option you select allows for enclosing a special waiver. Please note that international import duties, taxes and other special charges are not included in the item price or our shipping costs and these additional charges are the Buyer's responsibility. We do offer a petition waiver for VAT relief on the behalf of the buyer which may help reduce certain import taxes when your country grants such petitions for items over 100 years old and the shipping option you select allows a waiver request to be included. Please check with your country's Customs Office to determine what these additional costs will be prior to purchasing this item -- thanks.
RETURN POLICY: This teapot and cover are sold as a single lot and must be returned together if sent back. Satisfaction and peace of mind are guaranteed for all Docs Antiques listings here on Ruby Lane. And this means that if the buyer is unhappy with a purchase, then she/he may return it by sending the item back undamaged and post marked within fourteen days of the original receipt of the item at your address for a refund (certain shipping costs are non-refundable, please insure the item upon return and add tracking). Items damaged by shipping in the US are covered by insurance and while this rarely happens because we pack professionally, we will gladly help you file your insurance claim should it ever be necessary. Of course, never send an item back that has been damaged by shipping since that will void the original insurance. Instead, contact us for help if you have any questions and we will gladly assist.
PAYMENT OPTIONS: Checks on US Banks (no temporary checks, all checks must have 9 digit routing code; item ships after check fully clears), USPS money orders, PayPal, or contact us with your verified address for more options. If you wish to use a credit card by way of PayPal, then that option becomes available after you submit a Ruby Lane purchase order. Once submitted, a PayPal icon will appear at the bottom of this listing and then you may proceed from there if you wish to pay via PayPal by way of a credit card. Or see our Terms of Sale for additional information should you wish to ask for a customized layaway plan customized to your own needs and situation (email me a request for a customized layaway). Thanks for looking and we invite you back again when you have more time.
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