One of the first great challenges facing the new United States was establishing trade with foreign countries. These relationships were necessary to keep the country’s economy afloat and fuel the nation’s growth. The United States was particularly eager to establish a trade relationship with China because it was considered the world’s richest market.
In 1785, the first American trade ship returned from China filled with tea, silks, and porcelain objects. The arrival of the ship sparked a new craze for buying and using Chinese goods in American homes. This provided a much-needed boost to the American economy. Women were the primary purchasers of home goods and were the main drivers of this early economic success story.
This porcelain teapot was imported from China around the year 1800. It is an example of the kind of goods American women could purchase to support the U.S. economy in its early years. By having such an item in her home, a woman signaled that she was both up on the latest fashions and supported American trade efforts abroad.