Gaudy Welsh tea pot

This Gaudy Welsh tea pot was made in the 19th century in Staffordshire. Gaudy Welsh ware is characterised by the patterns of stylised flowers, highlighted with splashes of lustre glaze. The colours are usually dark blue, rusty red, yellow and green. The patterns are thought to have started as naïve imitations of Japanese Imari ware porcelain which had the same colour with gold highlights. Imari ware was produced in Arita especially for export to Europe and was very popular from the mid 1600s to the early 1700s. It was an expensive luxury item and began to be copied in China and Europe.

The majority of Gaudy Welsh ware was made in Staffordshire, England between 1820 and 1860 and was very popular in Wales. A small proportion of Gaudy Welsh ware was made in the Cambrian Pottery, Swansea and in the South Wales Pottery in Llanelli from about 1840.

The pattern on this Staffordshire teapot is known as the tulip pattern and it is part of a tea service. Several homes in Wales had Welsh Gaudy ceramics. They were often transferred from one generation to another such as with these from Cwrt y Llyn, Pentrefoelas that were in the possession of the family since the mid 19th century.

Salesmen travelled from Staffordshire to Welsh markets to sell earthenware pieces at prices most people could afford. In the watercolour Market Day in Bangor, painted in about 1856 by Joseph Josiah Dodd and now in Storiel’s collection, you can see a china stall selling domestic crockery.

Lustre ware, with its metallic shiny glazes, was also popular in Wales and the two types of affordable crockery were proudly displayed on wooden dressers, catching the flickering firelight. This china could have been used to eat and drink from, but the glazes, especially the metallic ones, wear off quickly. By the 19th century tea had become the most common drink in Britain.