ARTIST / MAKER: William Greatbatch (designer)
DATE: ca. 1775 (made)
PLACE: Staffordshire (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Earthenware (creamware) transfer-printed and painted in enamels

During the 18th century, Staffordshire became the centre of the production of ceramic tea wares in England. This teapot was made at the pottery of William Greatbatch, who was one of the most prolific designers and makers of potters’ moulds in Staffordshire. While he often supplied block moulds to Josiah Wedgwood, he also ran his own pottery, specialising in the production of block-printed creamwares. The ‘fortune teller’ teapot is one of his best known designs. It demonstrates a whimsical approach to the decoration of tea wares whilst also alluding to the mystical and astrological practice of reading tea leaves. On one side of the pot a woman receives a piece of paper on which is written ‘husband’ while behind her, a less fortunate woman is told that she will ‘never marry’. On the back of the teapot there is a fortune teller’s chart, depicting the twelve houses of heaven flanked on the left by the Ptolomean Sphere (Ptolemy’s classical model for the movement of the sun, planets, and stars around the earth) and on the right by the Copernican System (Copernicus’s Renaissance model in which the earth revolves around the sun). By revealing the astrological chart to anyone using the teapot, the tea maker is placed in the position of the fortune teller.