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It's black and white

This week we are looking at a type of ceramics that I've never shown before - in fact I've never had one of these before, even though I always love looking at them. So I took the plunge and purchased this beautiful basalt coffee pot from about 1820, made by the Cyples factory.

There are several things that stand out immediately. The style: a beautifully restrained and elegant "engine turned" neoclassical shape on a tall foot, with a fine pattern around the belly of the pot, and a very elegant tall finial. This pot was turned on a lathe to create the pattern, which is why it is so regular and clean.

The colour! Can anything be more black than this? This is called "Egyptian basalt" or "black basalt" stoneware. It is stoneware, not the normal porcelain - a very hard earthenware that doesn't chip as easily as porcelain, is not translucent, but shares the same cold hard qualities that are wonderful for decoration. Basalt stoneware has nothing to do with the rock called basalt, but is named after it. It is normal stoneware, but it is fired in a way that oxydises the item to a deep black colour while in the kiln; so it is not stained, but black through and through. Wedgwood perfected the method in the mid 1760s and since then, many other factories have used it, often for teapots and coffee pots because of course the black doesn't stain, and the hard stoneware doesn't chip very easily. This particular pot is also glazed, which gives it the beautiful shine.

Thirdly, the name of the maker: Lydia Cyples. Yes that's right, this beautiful, quite manly pot was made by a factory run by a woman. The Cyples factory made beautiful "useful wares" (teapots, coffee pots, jugs, bowls, chamber pots etcetera) between the late 1700s and 1840, and was run by a succession of family members. This coffee pot looks to be from about 1820, which was the time Lydia Cyples ran it.

And lastly, there is an identical in the Victora & Albert Museum! You can see it here.

I think it is a thing of incredible beauty, and in spite of a small chip off the tip of the spout, it is perfect for use. So consider it for your next coffee party... and here I have paired it with a beautiful white Belleek cabaret set, which is also available.

Where to find things

You can you can find all my tea and coffee pots here, and you can find all my available items here. If you want to stay up to date with new additions, find me on Instagram, where I put up pictures with a story several times a week.

Happy weekend, and go have a coffee 🖤☕️🖤


This week's new treasures:​



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