I thought that today’s blog post was just going to be about polishing up silverware and that I would be able to share a straightforward set of tips on how to bring your old teapot back to life. However, while I was polishing my pots, I turned them over and found a name stamped into the base – Picquot Ware. I was intrigued and after buffing up my DIY polishing project I headed indoors to investigate.
My husband found these kitchenalia items at a recent carboot sale and I loved the shape as soon as I saw them. I adored the curvy design and I imagined it to be the kind of tea set that might have been used to serve passengers on the Titanic or on a Mallard steam train journey in the 1940s. I’ve since researched the range online and have seen the Picquot Ware set described as 1940s, 50s and 60s, so I can’t be sure exactly how old my tea set is but I’m delighted that it will be another addition to my mid-century modern collection. From my research I found out that the 40s items of this design were marked “Newmaid” and were later stamped with Picquot Ware in the 50s and 60s. My pots all have Picquot Ware on the base along with a Made in England stamp so we’re look at a manufacturing date of 1950s onwards for my set. This jug was apparently used as a water pitcher or coffee pot rather than a tea pot (a traditional shape teapot is available within the same range) so I’d say that my tea set is actually more of a ‘coffee set’ if there’s such a thing! I’d love to find the teapot to match and turn it into a proper tea set, although judging by the stains on the inside of my coffee pitcher, it has been used for tea in the past. I actually saw a Picquot Ware hob kettle online but it was selling for around £100 so I don’t think I’ll be getting my hands on one anytime soon, unless I happen to stumble upon it at a carboot sale! From my research I have discovered that the full sets are very pricey – with full range of teapots, trays, kettles and jugs available – but individually they are worth around £20 each.The coffee pot is made of “Magnailium”, an alloy of manganese and aluminium that was especially developed for the Picquot Ware range. The pot is cast in one piece to minimise leaks when pouring and even the spout was designed to be ‘non-drip’ so this must have been a key feature of the product at the time. Perhaps the ‘modern housewife’ didn’t need the hassle of washing drip stains out of the tablecloth when there was a war to fight and country to rebuild? Even though many similar products were being produced with plastic handles at the time, this coffee pot was manufactured with a sycamore wood handle. The designers of Picquot Ware believed that that no plastic could imitate the grain of real wood so they stuck with a traditional material for the handle. It’s a really chunky solid pot and it is about 7 1/4 inches high. The accompanying sugar bowl and milk jug are just as chunky, with a good thickness to the walls of the items, although they are nowhere near as thick and heavy as the pot.Anyway, if you too have found some old pots at the carboot sale that you simply must have here are my tips for bringing them back to their former glory:
- Clean them thoroughly with hot, soapy water. This won’t damage them as they’ve probably been washed hundreds of times over the years of use!
- Dry them thoroughly with an old tea towel. It’s possible that some of the residual dirt will rub off onto your towel so be prepared for this.
- Using a cloth, apply a small amount of metal polish to the item. I picked up this tube of metal polish from the pound shop.
- Buff the metal polish into the surface using small, circular movements to really work it into the surface grime
- Wipe away and admire the smooth shiny surface while being shocked at just how mucky your polishing cloth now is!
- Wash again in hot, soapy water before using it for any drinks.
It took a lot of polishing to bring my Picquot Ware back to a sparkling shine but I actually enjoyed the process. It was really satisfying to remove all the build up of grime that had accumulated over decades. Okay, they won’t ever be showroom perfect after years of use but I’m pretty chuffed with how the tea set now looks.
Have you too ever bought something that you later found out was a vintage piece or retro classic? Did you worry about using it more after you researched it and found out that it was particularly old or valuable? Let me know what you think of my new tea set and whether I should actually use it or just keep it safe and pretty in my teak sideboard. Leave me a comment below or tweet me @Cassiefairy.