We are very grateful to a Norwegian reader of this blog, Pal Furuberg, who has kindly sent photographs of a ‘tigerish’, striped teapot that he bought at a a flea market at a children’s school in the outskirts of Oslo. A friend had told him about Manchester Museum’s ‘smashing pot’ with similar ‘tigerish’, striped transfer pattern, which looks very much like the one Pal, or Paul, bought.
This is a recently conserved teapot from one of the Roman Manchester sites excavated during the 1970s and 1980s by the late Prof Barri Jones. The excavators dug through through more recent Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian layers before they reached the area of Roman occupation. The later material was not a priority as part of the research aims but the objects, mostly broken pieces of pottery, were retained and are in the Museum store. We bring out the pottery every so often for events, so that visitors can try their hand at piecing together the three-dimensional jigsaws. So popular has this activity proved that we can now boast a number of almost complete Victorian and Edwardian vessels.
This example of a teapot was rebult for us by Jenna B. who has been on a conservation placement with the Museum from the University of Lincoln. A lot of the time-consuming work had already been done by visitors and Young Archaeologists Club members who put together like with like and joined them using sticky tape. All Jenna had to do was clean the sherds and glue them together. This was one of her final projects and what a great job she has done. It is only a pity that there were insufficient sherds surviving to enable us to attach the spout. We tried to find them in the boxes of mixed sherds but it’s rather like hunting the needle in the proverbial haystack. The teapot provides a good example for staff to use when discussing the ethics of conservation. At what point does a reconstruction become worthwhile?
The teapot has a rather interesting transfer printed pattern that I can only describe as ‘tigerish’. I wonder if this is Georgian rather than Victorian or later. Perhaps a visitor to the Blog can enlighten us?