No Stamp Act Teapot
This teapot was made in England about 1766-1770, possibly by the Cockpit Hill Factory, Derby, England. Inscribed on one side of the teapot is “No Stamp Act” and on the other is “America, Liberty Restored,” both within flowerheads and stylized scrolling leaftips in black. The cover is painted with a matching border. Teapots such as this were made for sale to the American market soon after the 1766 repeal of the hated Stamp Act, passed by the British Parliament on March 22, 1765.
Tea drinking was an important way for Americans to socialize with one another. Free women presided over tea tables in their homes, guiding the conversation of friends and family. Part of making tea included steeping the tea leaves in a teapot. This teapot was made in Britain and sold in the American colonies. What is the message of this piece? Who do you think would have purchased this teapot? What does the fact that this is made in Britain for American consumers tell you about the economic connections between Britain and its colonies? What does this teapot tell us about the political connections between Americans and the British?
Specific tangible items like this teapot can help students learn about more abstract ideas or relationships, such as the role of consumption and consumer goods linking the colonies to Britain. Tea, which was grown in China and imported to the American colonies by British merchants along with this teapot, served as an important item of contention and resistance. The makers of British goods — pottery being one example — were in competition with other manufacturers from Europe. According to the Smithsonian Museum: “Around the time the ‘No Stamp Act’ teapot was made, England’s potteries were industrializing rapidly, increasing production, lowering costs, and forcing out competition in the American market. But, production capacity quickly outgrew existing demand. The potteries responded in many ways, one of which was to appeal to the American market with decorations that directly contradict British political will.” This teapot was created after the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766 with a British American consumer in mind. The teapot highlights the ways that politics pervaded life for the colonists, with this political slogan painted on a household item. Teachers will also want to stress that the consumption of household goods and the use and display of these items were intended for women of the colonies who could afford these luxuries.
No Stamp Act