Alfred Meakin - The World's Largest Teapot 

> The Alfred Meakin pottery company was established in 1875 in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent.  
> In the 1890's as part of their sales promotion in America they produced a limited number of giant teapots, all with different patterns. The teapots were 37 inches tall and 73 inches in circumference. 
> The name of the wholesaler the teapot was presented to was printed on in gold leaf. They were designed to be on display in the store to attract attention boost sales. 
> The teapots were featured in Ripley's Believe it or Not newspaper column as being able to serve 2,000 cups. This was an exageration - at 23 gallons capacity the teapot held about 700 cups of tea. 
> Meakin probably created a dozen or so of these teapots and sent one to each of the leading china wholesalers in the United States. 
Today only three are known: 
  • One at Hohnecker's Gifts in Dubuque, Iowa originally made for Little, Bruce & Co.,

  • One at the Cincinnati Museum Center made for the Dean and Kite Company and 

  • One originally presented to B H Ferguson, Springfield, Ills. U.S.A

 

 


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standing 3 foot high - the Worlds Biggest Teapot

This display teapot was made by Alfred Meakin of Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent
and presented to C.H. Little, Bruce & Co. 

currently (2014) on display at Hohnecker's Gifts in Dubuque, Iowa 

 



Cincinnati Museum Center's Curator David Conzett 
with the 23-gallon teapot which was originally presented in 1893 by Alfred Meakin 
to the Dean and Kite wholesale china company, Cincinnati , America

this photo illustrates the size of the giant teapot 

 



Presented by Alfred Meakin Tunstall, England, to B H Ferguson, Springfield, Ills. U.S.A.

The teapot is 37 inches tall and 73 inches in circumference. It features hand-painted flowers and gold lustre lettering which proclaims "Presented by Alfred Meakin Tunstall, England, to B H Ferguson, Springfield, Ills. U.S.A." Somewhere along the way its handle was broken. 

 


 

 

Tea for Two—or Two Thousand

'If Alice’s “Wonderland” had taken in a little more territory, she might have found that, no matter to what size she grew or diminished, she could have a pot of tea in comfort. The problem could have been solved quite easily, right in our showroom in Dubuque where such vividly contrasted pieces as those shown in the illustration are to be found. 

Look at that giant teapot. It will hold sufficient tea to serve no fewer than 4,884 cups. And it is perfectly usable, too or would be for anyone capable of lifting its 75 pounds weight in one casual hand. The spout is hollow, so that it will pour, and excepting for the colossal size, it is a practicable piece. The teapot is by no means new. It was made some time in the late 1880’s, and so has rounded out nearly a half century, but the exact year of its manufacture is not known. However, it has been in our possession in Dubuque for more than 45 years.

Alfred Meakin, Ltd. of Tunstall, Staffordshire, made the piece, together with about a dozen other teapots and coffee pots of the same size and general type, and each of the leading crockery jobbers of the country was presented with one. The pottery believed, rightly enough, that the pots would serve as an unusually interesting display in the show rooms.

Each of the teapots was decorated in an entirely individualistic manner, and in luster lettering bore the inscriptions “Presented by Alfred Meakin, Tunstall, England” followed by the name of the recipient. 

The illustration shows something of the exquisite beauty of the decorations, each of which was handpainted by one of the various artists who were employed at that time by the factory. Such artists as A. Bourne, A. Capey, K. Kitteridge, and others were included in this group. 

The teapot which is on display in Becker-Hazleton Company’s booth at the Hardware Dealers Convention in Des Moines was presented to C.H. Little, Bruce & Co. which is the name by which the present Becker-Hazleton Company was then known. This teapot as decorated by A. Bourne who was one of the outstanding English artists of his time. 

On one side the picture centers around a windmill beside a small lake in which is a boat and on whose bank is seated a small boy fishing. Accompanying this boy is a small girl who is apparently tending two geese. Although windmills are generally associated with Holland where they are used mainly to pump water out of the lowlands, the windmill pictured is no doubt in England, because the English influence is quite obvious in the architecture of the Millowner’s cottage. This mill was evidently used to grind grain because on one side of the painting is a road on which is a man on his way to the mill, leading a mule on whose back is seated a woman and a bag of grain. In the hazy blue distance a small village with its church steeple is seen.

In the other side of the teapot there is an entirely different painting. Here is shown two small dogs waiting to pounce upon a small rabbit which is seen sitting terrified in its burrow in the ground. Although the picture on this side of teapot is nearly life size, the paintings are so skillfully joined by the artist that the difference in the size of the subjects is virtually unnoticed as one goes from one side of the teapot to the other. The cover is a beautiful floral picture in itself and it also fits into the pictures without the difference in size of the details being noticed.

It is believed that this is one of very few of the teapots still in existence at the present time, and since the moulds were destroyed long ago, it is impossible for the factory to reproduce them. And their enormous size-they are between 36 and 37 inches in height, about the same from the tip of the spout to the edge of the handle, and 72 inches in circumference-presents almost insurmountable difficulties to the modern potter, who cannot devote the leisurely attention that was possible 50 years ago.

The broad surfaces gave the artists an excellent opportunity to create such beautifully detailed designs as the formal garden scene which appears on the teapot illustrated here. A colorful fruit and flower pattern at the top of the pot, on the lide, and on the spout and a narrow band design at the edge line completes the decoration of this rare piece. The unusual character of the teapot always arouses a great deal of interest among those who see it in the showrooms. 

To the laymen, it is merely an exceptionally handsome curiosity. But to the potter, interest is centered largely in his knowledge of the infinite patience and expert care demand in its manufacture. He knows what a real feat it represented in potting, firing and glazing."

description by Becker Hazelton c.1950

 

 


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questions/comments/contributions? email: Steve Birks