The Chitra Collection: British and European Pottery and Stoneware

Wedgwood made this encaustic-painted caneware bamboo teapot in 1782. Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, mixes heated wax with colored pigments. The liquid paste can then be applied to the surface of the earthenware and shaped to the required design. The pale buff body of this pot is painted with encaustic enamel decoration, which suited this new form of bamboo design and was almost certainly inspired by similar pots being made in China at the time.

Although in other parts of Europe these manufacturing methods were used to produce a general supply of tablewares and decorative objects, in England all the major potteries manufactured a constant supply of tea wares to meet the growing demand. In 1784, François de la Rochefoucauld, French traveller and commentator, wrote, “ The drinking of tea is general throughout England. It is drunk twice a day and although it is still very expensive, even the humblest peasant will take his tea twice a day, like the proudest. . . .” This, of course, continued until tea became the drink of the nation by the end of the 19th century, and every household, every place of entertainment, every inn, tavern, hotel, and tearoom required teapots, cups and saucers, jugs, slop bowls, sugar basins, tea sets, cake plates, and hot water jugs. And so the potteries continued to thrive.

Contributing Editor Jane Pettigrew, an international tea expert, who has written many books on the subject, is recipient of the British Empire Medal. A former tearoom owner, she is a much-sought-after consultant to tea businesses and hotels, a conference speaker, and an award-winning tea educator. Although her travels take her around the globe, she resides in London.

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