Manufactured at the Jingdezhen kilns in Jiangxi Province, China
This is an example of the armorial porcelain produced in China specially for European customers. The Mertins family probably commissioned an entire tea service from a specialist merchant. The merchant would have sent a coloured drawing of their coat of arms to China and the family would have waited many months or years for their porcelain. [27/03/2003]
This teapot is part of a service specially commissioned by the Mertins family. Plates from this service, painted with the same coat of arms and peony design, have survived, though they are not in the V&A's collection.
The coat of arms shown on this teapot is that of John-Henry Mertins and his wife Bridget Peck. John-Henry was the son of Sir George Mertins, Sheriff of Essex from 1705 and Lord Mayor of London from 1725. Bridget was the eldest daughter of William Peck of Little Samford Hall, Essex. They married in 1717 and later lived at Valence House, Dagenham.
In the 18th century it was fashionable to order complete tea sets or dinner services from China. Coats of arms were drawn in detail and taken to Canton (Guangzhou) by East India Company merchants. The Chinese merchants then had the porcelains manufactured at Jingdezhen. Despite the lengthy process, Chinese porcelain was still good value for money, and remained popular in Britain until British products came to dominate the market in about 1800.