Photo: Courtesy of Woolley and Wallis.
The canny vendor purchased the teapot at a Lincolnshire auction in 2016, where it was thought to be a possible piece of early Isleworth porcelain.
However, the teapot, recently discovered to be only the 7th known piece from the John Bartlam factory in Cain Hoy, South Carolina, was purchased by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
John Bartlam was a Staffordshire potter who emigrated to South Carolina and established a pottery factory on the Wando river and is now recognised as the first to produce porcelain in America.
The Bartlam factory (1765 - 1770) predates the earliest known porcelain factory, the American China Manufactory (1769 - 1772), run by Gousse Bonnin and George Morris in Philadelphia.
The teapot was identified by its distinctive Chinoiserie style decoration, featuring a Sabal Palm that is the state tree of South Carolina and a crane that is local to the area, giving the teapot a clear American identity that would have appealed to the wealthy buyers of the area.
Previous Bartlam pieces, which curiously turned up at a 2002 Berkshire auction, were identified from sherds excavated from the original Cain Hoy kiln site.