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Teapot
  • Teapot
    Robert Crawford Johnson, born 1882 - died 1937
  • Enlarge image

Teapot

  • Place of origin:

    Birmingham, England (made)

  • Date:

    1922-1923 (made)
    1916 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Robert Crawford Johnson, born 1882 - died 1937 (designer)
    Napper and Davenport (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, with hinged lid and black handle and finial

  • Museum number:

    M.934-1983

  • Gallery location:

    Silver, room 68, case 6, shelf 1

  • Image in copyright

Stylistically, this teapot appears to be an English interpretation of the aesthetic principles of the German Bauhaus. However, the patent details inscribed on the base reveal that the design was registered in 1916, three years before the Bauhaus existed. It was an engineer's solution to the problem of storing teapots in mass catering establishments. The spouts and handles on conventional teapots were vulnerable, and liable to be broken in crowded hotel pantries.

The design was registered by Robert Johnson of Leicester. In his patent application he specified that the teapot could be made in either ceramic or metal. His main intention was to produce a practical design. But when the Birmingham retail silversmith Napper & Davenport produced the teapot in silver it acquired an aesthetic importance that Johnson never envisaged. In the late 1920s the Cube Teapot Company was established in Leicester and produced a highly successful version in ceramic.

Physical description

Cube teapot.

Place of Origin

Birmingham, England (made)

Date

1922-1923 (made)
1916 (designed)

Artist/maker

Robert Crawford Johnson, born 1882 - died 1937 (designer)
Napper and Davenport (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silver, with hinged lid and black handle and finial

Marks and inscriptions

Side: maker N and D for Napper and Davenport, anchor, sterling, date letter X (1922-3)
lid: sterling, date letter; Stamped on the underside: The Cube Tea Pot Robert Johnson's Patents GT. Britain 110951 USA 130066-21 Napper and Davenport Birmingham England Serial No. L31
Base: stamped: “The Cube Tea Pot
Robert Johnsons Patents
Gt Britain 110951
USA 1380066-21
Napper and Davenport
Birmingham England
Serial No. L31

Dimensions

Height: 13.2 cm, Length: 13.2 cm, Width: 13.2 cm

Object history note

Stylistically this teapot would appear to be an English interpretation of the aesthetic principles being established by the German Bauhaus at that time. However, the patent details inscribed on the base reveal that the design was registered by Robert Johnson of Leicester in 1916, three years before the Bauhaus even existed. It was an engineer's solution to the problem of storing teapots in mass catering establishments where vulnerable spouts and handles on conventional teapots were liable to be broken in crowded hotel pantries. Johnson's patent application broadly specified the material; the teapot could be either made in ceramic or metal. His original intention was for a practical design. Its production in silver by the Birmingham retail silversmith, Napper & Davenport gave it an aesthetic importance that the original patentee never initially intended. In the late 1920s, a company was established in Leicester called the Cube Teapot Company which produced a highly successful version in ceramic.

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

British Art and Design 1900-1960 ed. Carol Hogben, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, pp. 82-3 ill. ISBN 0905209575

Labels and date

CUBE TEAPOT
Silver, the finial and handle of wood
Hallmarks for Birmingham 1922-23
Maker's mark of Napper & Davenport, Birmingham.
Inscribed on the underside, Robert Johnson's Patents. Gt. Britain 110951 / USA 1380066-21. Napper & Davenport / Birmingham / England. Serial No. L.31

M.934-1989

The patent was initially lodged on November 13, 1916 by Robert Johnson of Leicester. His primary concern was for a design which was less susceptible to damage than a conventional teapot where the projecting handle and spout are vulnerable. Shape and material were broadly specified; either square, round, oval or otherwise.....the improved pot can be made of moulded earthenware or the like or made of metal. It was specifically intended to be used in hotels or restaurants where all utnesils are subjected to rough handling and indeed later in the 1930s it was; its manufacture in precious metal gives the object an aesthetic importance which transforms the designer's original intentions.

Categories

Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares; Metalwork

Collection code

MET

Qr_O94917
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