The idea of the veilleuse was born in the 18th century when ceramists in Europe began producing a device of use in sickrooms and nurseries. The veilleuse started out as a simple, utilitarian warming dish set atop a pedestal containing a shallow dish of oil. When the oil was lighted, the contents of the dish were heated. Artists of the period were quick to notice the flame also shone through the translucent sides of the pedestal producing a soft night-light effect. As the idea caught the public favor, artisans began producing more decorative versions designed as containers for tea and other beverages.
The 525 teapots on display in Trenton date from 1750 to 1860 and all were collected by one individual, a local doctor, over years of travel. The teapot museum is open all year round, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. (When City Hall is closed, visitors ask the firemen next door to get the key for them.)
Eventually the town decided to host a festival to draw attention to the collection. The Trenton Teapot Festival, held every May, has grown into a week-long event beginning with a ceremonial Lighting of the Teapots. There's also music and fireworks, an arts and crafts show, antique car exhibition, street dance, and the Annual Grand Parade. For full information, visit their website which has loads of images of these beautiful teapots.
Trenton, Tennessee is located about halfway between Memphis and Nashville, just north of Jackson. Can anyone say, "ROAD TRIP!" ???