Originally posted November 6, 2011, on the now-defunct Mid-Century Vibe blog.
Item: Bordallo Pinheiro Cabbage Leaf Teapot
Available at: Rural Origins Antiques in Royalton, Minnesota
Isn’t this teapot a dandy? I found it at a thrift shop, sitting in an unassuming manner behind some clear glasses. I almost missed it, but as soon as I laid eyes on it, I had to pick it up and turn it over to look for a maker’s mark. This is advice that Erik has passed on to me about picking antiques and vintage items. Never be afraid to thoroughly examine an object to look for a maker’s mark. He’s even been known to crawl under tables in the hunt for a mark. (It goes without saying that if you pick something up, you need to be careful not to break it. That’s why I was never in the habit of looking for makers’ marks before.)
The maker’s mark helps dealers and the public to identify who created a piece, which, in turn, can hopefully help to date a piece. The date on the teapot is unknown. (The date isn’t always easy to figure out if a company has been in business a long time and hasn’t kept track of the dates of its product lines or hasn’t shared that information with the public.)
When I turned this teapot over, I was met with a fine maker’s mark that also showed some artistry.
Check out that great frog.
The maker’s mark often provides enough information for an effective online search. This one sure did. From it we know the name of the company, Bordallo Pinheiro, and that it’s located in Portugal.
A Google search brought up some great information on Bordallo Pinheiro. It turns out that not only is this the name of a ceramics company founded in 1884 that is still operational in Portugal, it is also the name of the artist/cartoonist who founded the company. Now we know why that maker’s mark is so artsy … not to mention the teapot itself. Pottery from the Bordallo Pinheiro company tends to have a nature theme (animals, fish, flowers, leaves, etc. – the frog mark is certainly appropriate) and is done in the Majolica style. Here’s Wikipedia’s definition of Majolica:
Majolica, an English version of the Italian word maiolica, is a term covering a wide variety of European tin-glazed pottery, typically brightly painted over an opaque white background glaze, with an earthenware body.
Bordallo Pinheiro, whether the man or the pottery, is highly respected in Portugal. With the beautiful design of this teapot, I can see why. It’s so tempting to keep this one to myself.
For more information on Bordallo Pinheiro, see the following sources:
[Wikipedia] Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro
[Wikimedia Commons] Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro
[eBay Guides] Bordallo Pinheiro pottery and dishware
[Portugal Daily View] Bordalo Pinheiro: The artist who would give Moody’s the finger – I love this article because it shows how important Pinheiro is to Portugal’s history, his sense of humor and justice, and how influential his pottery studio is.
[Muselia.com] Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro museum