This unusual teapot has a yellow lion either side in stone + a phoenix overlaid in brass on the side with a butterfly and dragons on the lid. Chinese stamp on base. Size: 5 1/2 x 3 3/4 x 1 3/4 inches.
Although the Chinese discovered tea, they did not historically use teapots. Brewing tea in the cup, letting the leaves sink before drinking. Teapot design originated from Islamic coffee pots and Chinese wine vessel imported into Europe in the mid-1600's. It may have been assumed the curious wine vessel was for use with the tea which was shipped together. Earl Cadogan in Staffordshire, the future center of English porcelain production, was the first Englishman recorded to have owned such a vessel. Globular in shape, like most future European teapots.
The first European teapots were heavy cast, with short, straight spouts, unlike those of the Chinese. Octagonal and "fantasy" teapots designed as plants or animals appeared. In domestic form, like squirrels and rabbits - or newer "exotic" forms like camels, monkeys, and bamboo. However, these early teapots were of poor quality clay and workmanship. Europe lacked porcelain technology.
At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the East India Company, began importing teapots from China in larger numbers. Commissioning Chinese artists for the European market. Spouts were shaped as dragons and other animals, with elaborately scrolled handles. Until 1710 when the English discovered how to make porcelain, ending China's teapot domination.