Broken teapot bought for £15 sells for £575,000 | The Independent

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‘I never dreamt that I would find such a rarity,’ says vendor

Your old, cracked second-hand crockery could be worth more than you think.

A broken teapot bought for £15 has sold at auction for £575,000, after it was discovered to be one of the first ever made in America.

A private collector from the south-west of England bought the teapot, which had a broken handle and was missing its lid, at a general auction in the Midlands in 2016.

It was thought to be Isleworth , which was made in a factory in Middlesex between 1766 and 1800, but the buyer had doubts.

He took the piece to Clare Dunham, an expert at Woolley and Wallis auctioneers in Salisbury, who identified the vessel’s distinctive blue and white palm tree design as the work of Staffordshire potter John Bartlam.

Mr Bartlam left England in around 1763 to set up business in South Carolina. England’s export trade with America was booming and he believed he could save on transportation costs by producing pottery in the US. He became the first known manufacturer of American porcelain.

Experts said it was the seventh recorded piece of Bartlam porcelain to come to market and the only known Bartlam teapot, making it the earliest American-manufactured teapot to have been discovered.

It was offered for sale with a starting price of £10,000 and was expected to reach as much as £50,000. But the hammer came down at £460,000 and with fees added on, the teapot was sold for £575,000.

A London dealer bidding on behalf of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Rod Jellicoe, bought the teapot.

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