Sunday, February 06, 2000

This is no little teapot, short and stout

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Curator David Conzett says the Museum Center's 23-gallon teapot could be the only one of its size.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
        The giant teapot at the Cincinnati Museum Center is bigger than the biggest. It holds almost twice as much tea as the one billed the “World's Largest Teapot.”

        The giant teapot is also one of the largest of the 700 objects in the Museum Center's diverse collection that will be shown in an exhibition opening March 4.

        Called Prized Possessions, it will include the most important artifacts from the collection of the Cincinnati History Museum, the Museum of Natural History and Science and the Cincinnati Historical Society Library.

        The so-called “World's Largest Tea Pot” was made for the Great London Exposition of 1851. It was shown in 1998 at the Cincinnati Art Museum as part of 100 Teapots from the Norwich Castle Museum.

        But that 13-gallon pot doesn't measure up to the 23-gallon pot in the history collection at Museum Center.

        To be fair, the Norwich Castle pot probably was the largest in 1851, but in 1893 it was outdone when the Alfred Meakin Co., Tunstall, England, made this one for the Dean and Kite wholesale china company, for display in their store at Walnut and Pearl streets in Cincinnati.

        “They probably made more than one pot at the time,” said David Conzett, curator of historical collections at the Museum Center. “But the others may not have survived.”

        This pot survived an 1893 fire and the 1937 Ohio River flood before the company moved to 312 Elm Street, where the Enquirer Building stands today.

        The pot was narrowly missed by a runaway truck in 1951 and it was the only surviving object from a 1953 fire at that location. The Dean and Kite Co. donated the pot to the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio, forerunner of the Cincinnati Historical Society, when the company closed in 1960.

        Although the pot probably never has held a drop of tea, it was once featured in Ripley's Believe it or Not newspaper column as being able to serve 2,000 cups.

        “We suspected this to be an exaggeration and determined it to be in the neighborhood of 728 cups,” wrote Dean and Kite president William H. Kite in 1960.

        Prized Possessions will be at Cincinnati Museum Center March 4-Sept. 4.


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