The decoration on this teapot is meant to resemble fossils found in the limestone of central and northern England. The gnarled handle, known as a "crabstock" handle, imitates a crabapple tree branch with the side branches trimmed off. Many other teapots in this gallery have crabstock handles.
Tea arrived in London from Asia through the Netherlands, as the Dutch were the first to engage in tea trading with China. The 1670s saw only a small amount of tea reaching Europe, but by 1750 the British East India Company had imported 37 million pounds of tea to England. During the 18th century, tea remained a costly and exotic commodity that brought with it a certain mystery inspiring innovative accoutrements and social rituals for its consumption. The Chinese wine pot was a model for the European teapot, and Chinese ceramics also informed the shape of tea caddies. The number and variety of objects in this case speak to the energy and creativity invested in developing fashionable and functional tea implements as well as English patrons' willingness to purchase them.