A Chelsea porcelain leaf-moulded teapot and cover which sold for £30,000 at Dreweatts.

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Not drawing attention to itself and blending in with the crowd of other lots, it appeared at Dreweatts’ (in association with Christie’s) The Stanley F Goldfein Collection: Important English Ceramics auction on June 27 in Newbury.

Dating from c.1745-49, the soft-paste body was painted with scattered flower sprigs and insects against a white ground, the cover featured a finial of oak leaves and acorns with the c-curved handle modelled as faux-bamboo. Raised on four short feet, it stood at 5in (13cm) high.

To the underside was a triangle mark. This is one of the earliest used by Chelsea and should be ‘incised’, not impressed or ground in. This is worth noting as many reproductions were made, trying to emulate this expensive porcelain. It should look as if it has been drawn with a matchstick in butter or cheese.

The ‘acanthus leaf’ pattern on this teapot, also referred to as ‘strawberry leaf’, occurs on a wide range of wares from the triangle period, including coffee pots, teapots (in two sizes), beakers, tea bowls, saucers, cream boats and cream jugs (again in two sizes). Many follow the silver forms that would have been so familiar to factory founder and goldsmith Nicholas Sprimont (1716-71).


A Chelsea porcelain leaf-moulded teapot and cover which sold for £30,000 at Dreweatts.

Leaf-moulded wares, either left in the white or enamelled with flowers and insects, were originally derived from Japanese porcelain and became popular in Europe in the 18th century. Chelsea took inspiration for many of its patterns and models from continental factories, most notably from Meissen and Sèvres but also including Chantilly.

Chelsea from the period remains one of the strengths of a polarised English porcelain market. Dreweatts told ATG that the Chelsea section of the sale did very well and proved popular among UK buyers, with articles such as the Wedgwood black basalt appealing more to the US clientele.

This particular teapot had an estimate of £5000- 8000 and was competitively fought over. The final hammer fell at an impressive £30,000 (plus 26/25% buyer’s premium), selling to a UK buyer. In 2014, a similar teapot sold for £7000 at Sotheby’s.