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Dresser Teapot

Like most other areas of life, the diet of rich and poor Victorian families was very different. Meat and fish were expensive, and many working-class families – especially in cities – lived mainly on bread and dripping (animal fat), potatoes and any other vegetables they could grow, beer and tea. Rural, farming families tended to do better, with meat, fresh milk and eggs, and a wider variety of vegetables more readily available.

Teapot designed by Christopher Dresser, 1888

All Victorian households – including the poorest – had a teapot. This elegant example was designed by Christopher Dresser (1834 – 1904) as part of a three-piece tea set. From the late 1850s, Dresser designed a whole range of functional, yet beautiful items for people’s homes including wallpaper, carpets, glass, furniture and ceramics. He was unusual for his time: while others were designing exclusive and expensive individual pieces for their clients’ homes, Dresser pioneered ‘industrial design’ – pieces which could be mass produced, making beautiful but functional household items more affordable. This silver-plated teapot would most likely have belonged to a middle-class household.

Christopher Dresser put Middlesbrough on the map not only as a centre for industry but for exceptional design and craftsmanship when he co-founded the Linthorpe Art Pottery. Find out more and view more of his designs in the Made in the Tees Valley theme.

Compare this teapot to the pewter teapot from a working class household.

Image courtesy of Middlesbrough Museums Service