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  • Place of origin:

    Staffordshire (made)

  • Date:

    1740-1750 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Solid agate ware, with lead glaze

  • Credit Line:

    Bought from the Haliburton Collection

  • Museum number:

    151:1, 2-1874

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 53a, case 1 []

Object Type
Earthenware teapots of the mid-18th century were invariably small, the two common sizes being listed in contemporary bills as for one dish (meaning one cup) or two. This example is unusual in being squat, of a form more usually found in the 1730s and 1740s standing on three applied moulded legs.

Materials & Making
With the rising popularity of Staffordshire teawares, from about 1740 various new decorative techniques were developed. Applied vine-leaf ornament, splashed oxide glazes, shiny black glazes with unfired gilding and many other variations on these themes were tried. One of the most successful was agate ware, made from sheets of coloured, cut and rolled clays - much like the millefiore glass technique. An infinite range of designs could be made, some naturalistic, others geometric; but the limiting factor, from a manufacturing point of view, was that the patterns would have been distorted by throwing on a wheel, so that normally vessels could only be built up from pressed sections. This teapot, which clearly shows the joint around the belly where the two pressed hemispheres were joined together, perfectly demonstrates the difficulty of making seamless joints. One solution was to make the agate pattern so intricate that joints were effectively disguised. Another was simply to make square slab-sided teapots with all the joints on the corners. Agate ware was expensive to make and had become obsolete by about 1760.

Place of Origin

Staffordshire (made)


1740-1750 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Solid agate ware, with lead glaze


Height: 10.2 cm, Width: 19 cm including spout and handle, Depth: 11.1 cm

Descriptive line

'Agate-ware' Teapot, Staffordshire, 1740-1750

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The effect of agate stone was made by staining earthenware clays and then blending them together. This was one of a number of decorative techniques that Staffordshire potters developed in the mid-18th century. Teawares outnumbered all other products during Staffordshire's period of greatest innovation and expansion. [27/03/2003]


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


Ceramics Collection

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