A vintage Granny Ann teapot has been in my family for seventy-five to eighty years. Purchased new by my Auntie Thelma early in her marriage, it was used kindly over time, sporting nary a chip nor crack. Granny Ann eventually ended up in my cousin Carol’s collection, flirting with me from inside a curio cabinet, year after year.
According to its USA mark and recognizable design, Shawnee Pottery produced my aunt’s Granny Ann teapot during the 1940s. Managed by A.E. Hull Jr., son of the Hull Pottery Company’s owner, Shawnee actively turned out pottery from 1937 through 1961 from its location in Zanesville, Ohio. Of all the Shawnee stock I’d seen, I loved Granny Ann best.
In fact, admired it every time I visited my cousin, though I tried to restrain myself from yanking it out of her curio cabinet. I saw it every year at Carol’s home because she faithfully hosted our annual family reunion on the Oregon coast. Each time I gave that Granny Ann a side-glance, Carol would remind me she planned to pass it my way one day. But she wasn’t ready to give it up. Not yet. I understood.
At the end of last summer’s reunion, as we were saying our goodbyes, Carol signaled me to wait a minute and dashed back into her house. Soon she came out with a cardboard box, tucking it into the back seat of my SUV.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Open it when you get home,” she said.
I had a strong feeling that Granny Ann was my back seat companion, but waited until I arrived home to open the box. Of course, it was the long-loved teapot. Though when she’d mentioned it before in discussion, Carol always called it a cookie jar. Pardon?
When I examined it closely, I noticed the spout was plugged with a tight-fitting cork. A beautiful job, too. It looked like professional work. Now I understood why Carol considered it a cookie jar. Had Shawnee made both a teapot and cookie jar? Though I researched extensively, I couldn’t find another Granny Ann quite like mine.
Did my Auntie Thelma have it plugged long ago? If so, why? Hmm. I smelled a mystery, along with the aroma of imaginary Chocolate Chip cookies.
I contacted my cousin for more history on the Shawnee treasure. All she could tell me was that neither she nor her husband, Auntie Thelma’s son, had added the cork during their time of Granny Ann possession. Yet, they knew it was originally a teapot. An unknown someone had converted it along the way.
That information rang true. No wonder I could not find even one Granny Ann cookie jar. Anywhere. The sketchy facts worked for me. I had more teapots than I needed. But a long-loved, collectible cookie jar?
I knew right where to put it. And what to put IN it. That was no mystery at all.