Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Darby and Joan Teapot

Darby and Joan

Q: I have had this teapot for many years. There is an old woman on one side and an old man on the other. There is a mark on the bottom and the words "Darby & Joan" and "Tony Wood." Who were Darby and Joan?

A: It was common for women in the 17th century to call their husband by his last name rather than his first name. Darby and Joan were John Darby, probably a printer, and his wife, Joan, who lived in Bartholomew Close, an area of London, about 1700. They became famous when a ballad was written about them about 1756. They were also mentioned in writings, plays, and a ballet during the early 1800s. The characters are well-known in England and their names are used to describe an old, happily married couple of modest means. There are even Darby and Joan Clubs in The United Kingdom that hold dances and other social events for senior citizens. Tony Wood, a descendant of the 18th-century English potter Ralph Wood, operated a pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, from 1980 to the mid 1990s. He made novelty teapots, toby mugs, and other ceramic items. The novelty teapots usually sell for under $20.

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