Q: When my grandmother passed away, I received this matching teapot, cream pitcher and sugar bowl. They are marked "Sadler, Made in England" in a ribbon and are in pristine condition. Doing some research, I found similar sets for sale for as much as $750 (Canadian). Please advise me about the value of my set and any ideas about where I might sell it.
A: This is a charming tea set with a light blue ground accented with gold borders and scallops. The spouts and handles are also accented with gilding, and the teapot and sugar bowl have what appear to be crown-shaped finials.
There were several companies working in England using the name Sadler, but only two are rather famous. The first is John Sadler, who worked in Liverpool, and in 1756 invented a process for printing designs on ceramic bodies.
Wedgwood and other 18th-century English pottery companies sent their wares to Sadler to be decorated. Unfortunately, the pieces in today's question are not by that maker, but by another Sadler: James Sadler.
James Sadler and Sons was founded in 1899 (some sources note that Sadler and Co. was founded in 1882) and operated the Wellington and Central Potteries located in Burslem, Staffordshire, England. Their major products were teapots (and tea wares). The company lasted until 2000, when they were purchased by Churchill China, which used the Sadler name as a brand name. The printed ribbon mark found on the tea wares in today's question was used after 1947.
Sadler started by making terra cotta bodies (a kind of redware) and progressed to a white earthenware body that was often covered with a dark brown, Rockingham-style glaze. These particular Sadler teapots are not highly desired by North American collectors.
Sadler began making novelty teapots in the 1930s with examples shaped like ladies in crinoline skirts and Father Christmas.
Some of their most desirable teapots first appeared in 1938 and were shaped like racing cars with the driver's head sticking up to be used as the lid's finial. These charming race-car teapots can be found in green, yellow, cream, black, blue, gray, pink and maroon. They have the Sadler mark and the registration number 820236. They also have a license tag with number OKT42 and can bring as much as $125 at auction, though most bring somewhat less.
We mention all this detail because other companies made novelty race-car teapots that are much less desirable to collectors. Other desirable novelty teapots include a World War I-style tank with an "Old Bill" lid, and a teapot shaped like Humpty Dumpty on his wall.
We are a little flummoxed by the $750 price mentioned, but realize a seller can ask any price — no matter how unrealistic — when trying to sell something on the internet. We believe you should keep your grandmother's tea set because if you were to try and sell it you might receive as little as $50 for it.
Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written a number of books on antiques.