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Earthenware coffeepot and cover, ca. 1765, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Earthenware coffeepot and cover, ca. 1765, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

This coffeepot and cover, made around 1765 in Staffordshire, England, was designed to look like a pineapple. During this period, naturalistic themes were very popular in ceramics, and whole tea and coffee services were made to represent pineapples and cauliflowers, as well as pears, apples, and other fruits and vegetables. The design is meant to be suggestive of the fruit, not an exact representation—although consumers in England and the American colonies would have been familiar with pineapples. Pineapples were grown in orangeries in both England and the colonies and were associated with wealth and status. A pineapple might be found in the centerpiece of a dessert spread to show off the hosts' good fortune.

The coffeepot is made of earthenware, and various glazes give the pot its distinctive colors. Pots in these colors and forms were very popular in the American colonies in the third quarter of the eighteenth century. However, "green and gold" items were already out of fashion in England, as evidenced in a 1767 letter from English potter Josiah Wedgwood to partner Thomas Bentley. Wedgwood was glad to see these outdated goods shipped to America. By doing so, he gained both income and much needed space in his warehouses. The potter's letter confirms that he, and no doubt most English manufacturers, occasionally dumped undesirable goods on the American market. Ironically, merchants in America almost invariably touted the wares as "newly arrived from London" and "in the latest taste."