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Coffee pot

Coffee pot

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1760-ca.1765 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bow Porcelain Factory (manufacturers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Phosphatic soft-paste porcelain, moulded, and painted in enamels, with traces of gilding

  • Credit Line:

    Purchase funded by the Hugh Phillips Bequest

  • Museum number:

    C.231:1, 2-1993

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 53a, case 3 []

Object Type
This pot was for intended for making and serving coffee, which was usually drunk with milk, and often sweetened with sugar. Britain was importing approximately 3,000,000 lbs of coffee beans per annum around the time this pot was made. About two-thirds of this came from plantations in the West Indies, the remainder from Arabia.

Design & Designing
Similar coffee pots were made at the Niderviller faïence factory in Lorraine on the edge of eastern France. Both the Bow and Niderviller pieces were possibly copied from an original made at the Italian Doccia porcelain factory near Florence. The design of the spout and other parts are similar to Doccia pots, and a Doccia tea and chocolate service is known to have been among the stock owned by one of the Bow factory partners in 1764. Only one other Bow coffee pot of this shape is known today, possibly because the spouts on pots of this sort are all too easily broken.

Materials & Making
The Bow factory made a type of porcelain that was strengthened with bone ash, making it suitable for tea- and tablewares. Although Bow concentrated on utilitarian wares, it also made a range of luxury pieces, for example this coffee pot.

Physical description

Baluster-shaped coffee pot modelled with Rococo scroll and shell motifs and painted with exotic birds; scrolls picked out in puce, blue and gilding. The foot is scroll modelled and painted with shells and woodland greenery.

Place of Origin

London (made)


ca. 1760-ca.1765 (made)


Bow Porcelain Factory (manufacturers)

Materials and Techniques

Phosphatic soft-paste porcelain, moulded, and painted in enamels, with traces of gilding

Marks and inscriptions

'To' (the 'o' in superscript) impressed
The impressed mark 'To', and its variants 'TO', 'T' and 'IT', occur on Bow, about 1755-1765, Worcester about 1765-9, Bristol about 1770-3, Caughley about 1776-85. It is also found in relief on moulded Worcester wares (Rackham 1937), suggesting that the craftsman who used it worked as a modeller or mould-maker also. The mark was long believed to have been that of a the modeller named Tebo (probably an anglicized form of 'Thibaud' or 'Thibualt') about whose work Wedgwood wrote so disparagingly in 1774. More recently, it has been suggested that this craftsman might have been John Toulouse, a modeller recorded in the Chamberlain accounts in 1793-4. Certainly, Chamberlain's did produce similar work to the shell-assemblages marked 'To', but none actually bear this mark, and there is no reason why the name Toulouse should have been contracted in this way. On the other hand, the use of a superscript 'o' is compatible with the name Tebo, but this modeller's work for Wedgwood is quite unlike the marked porcelain pieces, which casts doubt on the traditional identification.


Height: 30.2 cm

Descriptive line

Coffee or chocolate pot, soft-paste porcelain, Bow porcelain factory, London, ca. 1760-1765

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Young, Hilary. English Porcelain, 1745-95. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1999. 229p., ill. ISBN 1851772820.
Baker, Malcolm, and Brenda Richardson (eds.), A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications, 1999.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The dense and complex Rococo shellwork and scrollwork here are very unusual on British ceramics. The Bow factory may have copied much of the design from a ceramic or silver coffee pot made in Italy or France. Similar naturalistic fish head spouts occur on Italian and French ceramics of this period. [27/03/2003]


Soft paste porcelain


Painted; Gilded

Subjects depicted

Masks; Birds


Ceramics; Porcelain; Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares; Drinking


Ceramics Collection

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