DATE: ca.1750 (made)
PLACE: Staffordshire (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Press-moulded earthenware, lead-glazed

During the 18th century, the rising popularity of Staffordshire pottery led to the creation of new decorative techniques to manufacture tea and table wares that were practical, affordable and decorative. Agateware pottery, from which this teapot is made, imitated the swirling patterns of agate, a semi-precious stone that was prized during this period. The effect was created by using sheets of different coloured clay that were stacked, cut, rolled and then reformed to create a swirling pattern. During the mid-18th century, novelty Staffordshire teapots took many forms and this ‘pecten’ shell shape was one of the most popular. It is thought that this was produced by press-moulding two sheets of marbleised clay against real pecten shells to achieve a naturalistic design with high relief. The teapot finial takes the form of a Chinese lion, reflecting the ongoing fashion for East-Asian inspired motifs in the decoration of teawares. The production of agateware was a costly and lengthy process, and by ca. 1760 the technique had become obsolete.