Question: I was told the teapot shown in my photos was brought to this country by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who presented it to a prominent Marine general. The lid is inscribed "For U.S.A. Britain and Democracy." Printed on the pot's bottom is "World War II Made in England Escorted to United States by the Allied Fleets." A mark that shows a lion and the British flag inside a twisted rope also appears on the bottom. What can you tell me about this item? - D.M., Linwood
Answer: The pretzel-shaped, three-loop twisted rope - known as a Stafford Knot, or Staffordshire Knot - is a symbol used since the 1840s by many of the potteries located in Staffordshire County, England, and it identifies your vintage teapot as a product of that region. Pots such as yours, decorated with black glaze and simple, hand-painted flowers, were produced during World War II as part of a fundraising program created to provide money and commodities necessary for Britain's war effort.
During the war, the United States and Canada provided escort ships and convoys that carried massive cargoes to England. Once unloaded, the ships frequently were filled with English ceramic ware that served as ballast for their return. The articles, which included thousands of tea-pots, were sold in America and Canada to raise income for Britain.
Folks who collect teapots or World War II memorabilia presently pay $35 to $45 for such pots. If your teapot's history concerning its association with Gen. Eisenhower can be documented, its value could be significantly higher.
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist whose consulting firm, Treasures Unlimited, is based in southern New Jersey. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Life section, The Press of Atlantic City, 11 Devins Lane, Pleasantville, N.J. 08232. Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.