Many of us who love tea also love tea things, and often build collections of teapots, teacups, and various tea accoutrements. I myself must have at least thirty or forty teapots and about as many teacups, along with gaiwans, aroma cups, and other “stuff.” No doubt many of you do too.
A couple of years ago I came across a sweet little paperback book that catalogues one lady’s three-hundred-plus teapot collection: Grand Mother’s Teapots by Nelda Powell. If you enjoy collecting or even just looking at teapots, then this book is for you.
It’s not a fancy book; following a brief introduction it’s just seventy pages of more or less random photographs of all sorts of teapots, mostly brought back to Grand Mother by her peripatetic children and grandchildren, all proudly displayed in her home. There is nothing educational about it, the photos carry no descriptive notes; it is simply there for the browsing.
And therein lies the sweetness of it. The reason why this book touched me – and may touch you as well – is because it is not simply a celebration of a treasured collection. Clearly the book was created to pay homage to the special lady who cherished these teapots — and who was, in turn, so very cherished by her grandchildren.
A number of the teapots spurred my curiosity – I wanted to know more about them. And so I turned, as I often do, to a marvelous book that I picked up about fifteen years ago: Teapots: The Collector’s Guide by Tina M. Carter.
This large-format hardcover book is carefully organized and beautifully illustrated. Within its eighty pages the author describes the various types of teapots, from daily to decorative, metal to glass, and fine china and porcelain and handmade pottery from around the world. There are specific sections for figural, floral, and even miniature teapots. In short, it is an excellent introduction to the teapot collector’s milieu.
Copious illustrations of the various features and styles of teapots, manufacturers’ marks, what to look for and what to avoid make this a go-to book for anyone who’s considering expanding their teapot collection, whether your interest is decorative, functional, modern, or antique pieces.
The author includes a brief history of teapots, tips on preparing tea in both English and Asian styles, suggestions for what to do with a broken teapot or one that’s lost its lid, and recommendations for where to buy different types of teapots. (Sadly some of these no longer exist.)
Even if you’re not in the market for teapots right now, this is a book you will want to savour.
Grand Mother’s Teapots is available at nationwide booksellers; some of these also carry Teapots: The Collector’s Guide, tho’ it is perhaps more readily available via sellers of used books. Both deserve a place on your tea book shelf. Grab your favourite teapot, steep up your favourite tea, choose a book (or both!) and curl up with your favourite cup for a very pleasant afternoon’s browse.
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