Among the most desirable examples of Victorian majolica come the series of whimsical teapots produced by premier factories in the second half of the 19th century. The range of Minton designs include rarities such as the vulture and snake, the spiny fish, a cockerel and a cat on a flatiron.
This naturalistic model of tortoise and snail, made by Minton, carries a date cypher for 1878 and is recorded in the factory archives as shape number 629. It comes to auction at Sworders’ Fine Interiors sale on June 25-26, from a local lady who only in May was watching an episode of the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow when a similar teapot was featured. Surprised by its potential value, she decided to take her own version of the Minton tortoise - inherited from a great aunt - to Sworders where specialists were delighted to see it and suggested an estimate of £1,500-2,500.
A Minton Majolica tortoise teapot and cover
English majolica, that takes its name from Italian tin-glazed earthenwares often called maiolica, was first displayed by Minton to much acclaim at the Great Exhibition in 1851. Production boomed for four decades but, as its bold colours and ‘Victorian’ forms fell from fashion, production had all but died out by 1900.