- Judith Helen
As a girl, my mother made me tea when I wasn't feeling well or as a special treat after dinner with dessert. She was a coffee drinker along with the rest of my family. Tea wasn't something that was part of our family gatherings. I guess it was because we are from Italian descent and Italians love their espresso and coffee. I always favored tea over coffee and as I grew older, I started to enjoy it on my own. Many years had passed and it wasn't until a few years ago that I jumped on the "Tea Wagon" as I like to call it, and rode that wagon straight into the tea fields.
It was my love of vintage china that made me buy a ticket to ride on that wagon. First I purchased a cake tier for finger sandwiches and sweets, then I purchased a teapot and teacup. Drinking tea from that teapot and teacup was like heaven. I felt like royalty and it tasted so much better than it did from a mug. I always drank tea from a ceramic mug but the taste was so refined from the bone china. The china changes the taste of tea for the better, there really is a difference. In my research, the reason for this may be because of the calcium within the glaze. Years ago, bone china was made with actual cow bone ashes which contain calcium. Now, they add calcium phosphate and it is believed that during the glazing process, this calcium seeps into the glaze. As a result, it increases the body of the water and the tea which in turn, enhances the flavor. Sounds logical I guess but I don't understand it because I am not a scientist. I'm just a tea drinker who knows what tastes good and my tea tastes great when I drink it from my pretty bone china tea sets. That's all I need to know.
When I purchased my first bone china teapot, I had no idea of the journey I was about to embark on. I went on Ebay and searched for a vintage teapot. There were literally hundreds of them so I picked the cheapest one that I thought looked pretty. It was a Sadler Teapot, gold and off white swirl. I placed my order and when it arrived, I was a little disappointed. Not because it wasn't beautiful but because it was tiny. It was a 2 cup teapot. It was okay for me since I was the only one drinking from it but in the photo on Ebay, it looked like a regular sized teapot. You can see the difference in the sizes from the photo below.
Well, I learned my lesson to read the description better and off I went... I found my next teapot, then another one and so on and so on. I became obsessed with Sadler's. They were the most pretty pots and they came in so many shapes and patterns.
James Sadler founded his pottery company in 1882 in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire England. The first teapots were called "Brown Betty's". They were round teapots made using a red clay with a manganese brown glaze known as Rockingham glaze. This was the most popular type of teapot in England for about 200 years before Sadler opened his factory. James Sadler made a name for himself and his company flourished. He went on to create not only the Brown Betty's but so many kinds of teapots and earthenware. His products were of the utmost quality and beauty. His name became synonymous with "good taste". In my opinion, it still is.
As my obsession for Sadler Teapots continued, I was running out of space as to where to display my vintage beauties. I had to purchase a few china cabinets to house these works of art. So, for every holiday, birthday or special occasion that endorsed a gift, I recommended to my husband that these cabinets were the perfect gifts and he wouldn't have to worry himself about what to buy me. I made it seem like I was "helping" him out and in return he was grateful... Men can be so silly, he was happy to oblige because he was off the hook to find something for me. I love how he is so patient and supportive. You need a supportive partner when you take on a collection like this. I have over 160 Sadler teapots, biscuit jars, jugs, creamers and sugar bowls. It gets a bit crowded at home.
One of my favorite Sadler teapots is the Dainty Miss. It took me years to find this teapot and with in one year, I was able to find 4 of them. All of a sudden, they came up for sale. I find there are trends. I don't know how it happens but with all of my searching online and at local antique dealers, certain patterns seem to come up for sale at the same time. It must be the Teapot Gods controlling what is popular at that moment. It's a mystery to me...
I love this teapot with the pretty girl in her pink flowing gown walking through a garden holding a bouquet of flowers. For some reason, it speaks to me. I found two sets with the creamers and sugars and two teapots just by themselves.
A classic Sadler pattern is the "Sadler Rose Cubed Teapot", #1949. I think this Sadler is the most sought after of all the Sadler teapots. It always seems to sell at a very high price. I have seen it sell for over $1,000.00 US dollars. That is remarkable. I was extremely lucky to find 5 of these pots a few years ago. Who knew how much they would grow in popularity and value.
Another rare Sadler is the Victorian Couples or Courting Couples pattern. It comes in a few colors. Here are the turquoise and purple. I don't see many of these for sale.
What I love about this pattern is they were made with different scenes. Out of the 6 teapots that I own, there are three different scenes. Two are of couples sitting at pianos and one is a couple sitting at a table enjoying fruits and wine. I wish I knew how many scenes there were all together. Imagine what the whole series must have looked like. I bet they were beautiful on a table at tea time. All the different colored teapots with all the different scenes, ahhhhh, such eye candy!
When searching for teapots, I have to admit, I am a stickler for pink. Pink China is my favorite. I love all the pastel colors but I think pink brings it to another level. Pink is more rare. When I am searching out china plates to make my Cake Tiers, the pink plates are the hardest to find and they always carry a higher price tag. Pink Sadler teapots are no different. The minute a pink teapot comes up for sale, it sells for a hefty price. I think it's because pink is unexpected. We expect to see white, tan, brown, rust, the more earthy tones but pink, well that is special. It's feminine and happy. Perfect for tea time.
Now that I have collected so many of these teapots, I do appreciate that they do come in different sizes. Sometimes I don't want a full pot of tea, just a small tea break, so using a two cup teapot is perfect. These two are so cute, a full size with it's little sister.
As a person who owns many vintage teapots, my advice to anyone who owns a teapot or is thinking of purchasing one, may it be a Sadler or another brand, please try to use your teapots. People think they will "save" their pots but unused vintage teapots still get old. I have purchased many teapots that were in pristine condition from non use. They were stored in china cabinets for years and were absolutely beautiful until I used them. All of a sudden, crazing appeared after I used them a few times. Also, some unused teapots omit a gypsum taste. I have to season those teapots with black tea and then the crazing gets stained. I say live it up!....Life is too short to keep a beautiful teapot locked up. It was made to serve tea so let it do it's job. Unless you are one of those people who spent $1,000.00 on a teapot, I'd leave that one in the cabinet...!
Best place to start using your teapots, have some friends over for afternoon tea or just tea and cookies. They will love drinking tea from a teapot...it's so chic!
Sadler Teapots are in such demand and have followers all over the world. There are several Facebook pages dedicated to fans of Sadler Teapots. One in particular is the "International Sadler Teapot Club" which I am one of the admins for along with Britta from Britta's Victorian Tea Parties and Grace, an avid follower. Together we try to make the cyber world a little prettier and help other Sadler fans to gain info on their teapots and to get the word out when someone is selling or in need of buying a Sadler teapot. You can find the page here:
You can find Britta here: https://www.facebook.com/BrittasVictorianTeaParties/
Thanks for stopping by and stay thirsty my friends, summer is here...maybe some Sun Tea for those hot summer days. Fill a gallon container with water, place around 7 of your favorite teabags in the container, cover and put out in the hot sun. It will brew the tea and then you can serve it iced with either orange slices or lemons. It's delicious.