The Nation's Premier Antiques Center

Earliest American Teabowl

Interior of teabowl, John Bartlam pottery (1735 or 1736-1781)

Recent Antiques magazine feature article “American Porcelain Teabowl” charts the fascinating history of domestic eighteenth-century porcelain, focusing on the recent discovery of critical ceramic relics from master potter, John Bartlam. Bartlam immigrated to South Carolina from Straffordshire, England in 1763 to exploit the region’s rich clays and growing American taste for English wares. There, he produced unique pieces with no previous examples in the English porcelain tradition. Expert analysis reveals the piece pictured above to be the earliest intact example of American-made porcelain.

bartlams pottery at cain hoy

Teabowl shards, Bartlam's pottery (1765-1770)

Using exhaustive scientific and visual analysis, the bowl was recently identified as a Bartlam unexpectedly hidden in an English collection. Experts suspect the antiques trade or Bartlam himself brought the intact piece back to England. Additional research is underway to discover the rest of Barlam’s South Carolina venture. So far, no other examples of his creamware have been firmly identified but the exciting chase continues, and each new discovery, no matter how modest, adds an infinite sum to the rich history of American porcelain. The full story of these wares can be read here.