“If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; If you are excited, it will calm you.” These are the words of William Ewart Gladstone the famous 19th century Prime Minister and tea drinker!

Let’s be honest, most of us love a cup of tea! So, before you throw out that old pot in favour of dunking your bag in a mug, you’d best check it out. A purple clay teapot made by Gu Jingzhou in 1948 sold for a staggering £1.6m in 2010. You’d need bags of loot to buy that!

Look on the internet today and you’ll find antique teapots for anything up to £100,000, but also very pretty early teapots for just a few pounds.

Teapots were and are made in a variety of materials. One of the earliest English silver teapots is on display at the V&A Museum and it was made in 1670. The Fulham Pottery which started making ceramic (or pottery) teapots in the mid-17th century is reputed to have made Britain’s first mass produced teapots but of course, lots of other potters soon started making them too.

Salisbury Journal: Staffordshire teapot

If like hundreds of thousands of us, you love a good mooch around a stately home or museum, most have at least one teapot on display but you’ll find the largest collection of antique teapots on display in the UK in the lovely east Anglian city of Norwich.

But where did all this tea love start?

According to legend the Chinese emperor Shen Nung sat under a tree as a few leaves blew into the water his servant was boiling. That was 2737 BC. Suddenly tea was a thing.

Talking of tea, I often stay at a very lovely old hotel, The Grimsdyke owned and run by the Purico Group, which was founded by Professor Nathu Puri CBE. His company also makes paper and in all probability you’ve dunked one of his bags in hot water too. Yes, his paper is used to make millions of tea bags.

So, what are my tips about buying a teapot you can use and love, that’ll go up in value? I’ll be honest. Don’t! Not unless it’s for very very special occasions as a clumsy oaf like me will undoubtedly drop the lid and chip the spout in the dishwasher. 

So what’s my tip? If you’re buying an old teapot for a few pounds, then yes, use it and love it. If on the other hand, you’ve fallen in love with the pretty design, elegant form and provenance of a teapot costing a good few quid, then here’s my tip, pop it on a shelf or in a cabinet. 

All that said, I often pop into a chum’s antique shop and I’m served tea in an early 19th century export teapot.

Salisbury Journal: Jasper ware (blue) Circa 1895 £30

“Which tea would you like?” I endeavour to come up with the most ludicrous variety you can imagine and so far not once have they let me down! “Uni Gyokuro?” “Purple Oolong?” “Lapsang Souchong?” Always, always arrives with a biscuit! Hysterical!

Here is a lovely blue under-glazed teapot you can buy. £295 asking. Why should you buy it? It has a few minor cracks, but it’s complete and it has a few rubs too but it’s a lovely thing! Go to sellingantiques.co.uk/1001736/chinese-underglaze-blue-porcelain-teapot-kangxi/

Secondly a beautiful Coalport teapot, late Regency circa 1810-1820. It has some restoration but for a £125 asking it makes a fabulous cabinet piece. Go to sellingantiques.co.uk/984033/early-19th-century-porcelain-coalport-teapot-cover-c18101820/

What’s a cabinet piece? It’s a piece of pottery you buy to display (in a cabinet).

Be careful though, “restored” most likely means that acrylic putty and resin have been used and that it’s been painted and lacquered. Be careful how? Don’t put it in a dishwasher, don’t stand it anywhere supremely hot and don’t make tea in it! What? I hear you ask? Yes, buy it to look at and not to use. It’s pretty, attractive, a nice thing, but you can’t, can’t use it.

Scour boot fairs, charity shops, the internet, auctions and of course, antique centres and antique shops too. 

Like everything in life, buy the best you can afford. No! That doesn’t mean most expensive it means best. I’ll keep saying this too; get to know your subject and whilst you are at it, drink more tea!

Andrew Blackall is an English antique dealer with more than 30 years of experience selling period furniture and quirky collector's items to clients across the globe. He has written and produced award-winning film and television productions. He was born in St John’s Wood, London and he grew up in and around London. He currently lives in Avebury, Wiltshire. His love of antiques stems from an early fascination with history and from visiting country homes throughout old England and the British Isles. Many of Andrew’s clients are well known on both sides of the pond, patronising his ability to source antiquities with provenance and appeal. His stock has appeared in a number of films and TV shows. Andrew has two styles of business: one selling high-end decorative antiques at The Blanchard Collective, the other selling affordable collectables at The Malthouse Collective.