Twelve hundred antique teapots collected by a former Ampthill man who never drank a drop of the stuff sold for £80,000 – twice the estimated price – at an auction on Tuesday.
Architect Philip Miller, who used to live at Ampthill House, spent more than 40 years building up the collection, which dated back to 1745 and included the work of many different English and foreign factories.
But his widow Patricia reluctantly decided to put them up for sale following his death last year.
Among them was a rare mid-18th century flower-decorated Westpans soft paste teapot which sold for £1,215 and one dated 1875 from Royal Worcester, England’s oldest porcelain brand, which went for £538. A 1930s teapot by ceramic artist Clarice Cliff sold for £198.
Mrs Miller, said: “Every single teapot sold, which is a testament to my late husband’s eye for quality. I hope the new owners will enjoy them as much as Philip did.
“I was sorry to have to sell his beloved teapots but I am moving to a smaller property and simply don’t have room for them any more.
“The ironic thing is that Philip didn’t like tea, he actually never drank a drop.”
The Millers moved from Ampthill 15 years ago to live in a Grade II-listed Georgian home overlooking the River Tweed at Berwick, Northumberland.
But they are still remembered by many people in in the historic Georgian market town. Scrabbler wrote on the Ampthill TV Forum website: “I am very sorry to hear of his death.
“I remember his lavish display of teapots from all corners of the world very well. They were a talking point in Ampthill.”
Oceanbreeze, referring to Ampthill House, adds: “That, it seems, closes the book on memories that some of us have of elegant tea parties there in the 70s.”
Mr Miller donated part of his teapot collection to a museum some years ago. He also published two books – ‘The Anthology of British Teapots’ and ‘Teapots and Coffee Pots’.
Julian Thomson, director of Newcastle-based auctioneers Anderson and Garland, said: “Philip was a dedicated collector. He did it for the joy and passion – teapots were a large part of his life.
“He couldn’t pass an antique shop without going in. He and his wife had a passion for antiques, particularly porcelain.”
The firm’s pottery specialist Fred Wyrley-Birch added: “It is rare to sell 100 per cent of a sale. We had bidders from around the world including the U.K., Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Taiwan which demonstrated the quality and depth of the collection”