Kettles or teakettles, as they are also called, are made out of tough materials such as copper; stainless, chromed, or enameled steel; or cast iron. Some of the most common teakettles of the 19th century were made out of copper or cast iron. They were designed to last.

A typical copper teakettle from this period would be tinned inside, have a gooseneck spout, a brass lid, and a hinged handle—on nicer teakettles, the handle’s outline resembled a chef’s hat.

By the beginning of the 20th century, cast aluminum was being used to make teakettles. Some of the most collectible examples are those made by Wagner Manufacturing Company of Ohio and Griswold Manufacturing Company of Pennsylvania.

Squat Wagner kettles had straight sides that tapered gently from bottom to top, wood handles on thick wire, and a slightly domed lid that swiveled from front to back. Griswold kettles were a bit more sophisticated, with faceted, flattened sides, a flat swivel lid, a nicer handle, and a “Safety Fill” hole between the lid and spout.

Enameled metal kettles ranged from ones with blue-and-white mottled exteriors to others in solids of red or blue. Lighter than cast iron and copper, enameled metal teakettles were frequently packed on camping trips and used until their cracked surfaces succumbed to rust. Other metal kettles include those by Wagner, whose Magnalite kettles from the 1940s had polished aluminum surfaces and black, Bakelite handles.

In the 1920s and ’30s, electric teakettles gained acceptance. Some manufacturers that had excelled in copper and cast iron tried to move into this new market, as did firms like General Electric, but the company that became synonymous with electric teakettles was Russell Hobbs, which introduced its K1 electric kettle to English tea drinkers in 1955.

More recently, a new class of designer teakettles, most of which are of the whistling variety, have gained prominence. In 1983, the Italian kitchenware company Alessi commissione...

Two years later, in 1985, post-modern architect Michael Graves produced an even more famous design, the Alessi bird kettle, which today is sold in regular, electric, and cordless versions.

Bodum of Denmark has also employed designers to do amazing things with its teakettles. The company’s short, cylindrical, and flat-topped Osiris kettles come in plain stainless as well as fancier versions by Danish designer Carsten Jorgensen. Flourishes include a teak handle and a transparent blue finial on the lid.

Teapots are not constrained by the need to endure direct contact with an open flame. Thus, some of the most treasured teapots are made out of delicately glazed porcelain and china. Late 19th-century transferware and glazed designs from famous makers of Staffordshire pottery are prized, as are Art Deco Fiestaware teapots from the 1930s.

But just because teapots don't need to be tough doesn’t mean they always aren’t. In fact, some of the most collectible examples are the Japanese cast-iron teapots called tetsubins. These small, low teapots, which come in a variety of earthy colors, tend to have short spouts, handles that run in line with the spout over the top of the pot, and relief designs on their exteriors, the most common being a hobnail or arare pattern.

There is also a long tradition of ceramic teapots in Japan. Teapots or kyusu, as they are called, with handles at the back are known as ushirode, while pots with a single fat handle on the side are referred to as yokode.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Feeding America

Feeding America

This archive of 76 influential American cookbooks from the late 1700s to early 1900s, assembled by the Michigan St… [read review or visit site]

Tupper Diva

Tupper Diva

Kristian McManus’ fresh, airtight collection of Tupperware catalogs and related ephemera from the 1950s and 6… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Pristine Le Creuset Kone Blue Enamel 1.6 Litre Stove Top Kettle / Rayburn Or AgaSimplex Heritage 2 Quart Tea Kettle Copper 226439 HticIshigaki 10" X 2" Sukiyaki Cast Iron Kettle PotHuge Vintage 32 Cup 8 Quart Cathrineholm Lotus Enamel Stock Pot Kettle YellowPrecious Vintage Aluminum Coffee Tea Pot Green Depression Glass PercolatorCopper Tea Kettle Whistling Blue Delft Porcelain Handle Knob Vintage BrightGray Graniteware Enamel Ware Teapot Tea Kettle PotRevere Ware 1801 Copper Tea Kettle Vintage Wood Handle + Lid Wood Knob Rome NyGriswold 8 Inch Aluminum Trivet Cast Iron Kettle InsertVintage Prelude Sterling Silver Tall Tea Pot International Silver Co.Asiatic Pheasant Black Transferware French Toile Square Teapot Made In EnglandSmall Antique Cast Iron 3 Footed Witches Cauldron Hearthware Pot Kettle Nr LookCast Iron Tea Pot Japanese With Tea Strainer - 1960sSlant Logo Griswold "erie" # 8 Pot - Kettle - Flat Bottom - Side Ring Antique Cast Iron Kettle S M Co #3 Pitts Pa 2 Qts W/bail Estate Fresh NiceVintage Old Fashioned Anodized Aluminum Tea Kettle New In Box 2-1/2 QuartJohn Wright Cast Iron Blue White Graniteware Enameled Kettle Humidifer WoodstoveCast Iron Erie Pot Kettle #784 Antique Pre-1940 Revere Ware Copper Tea Kettle Pot Vintage With HandleSimplex Patent Solid English Copper Kettle Chrome Over Copper Made In EnglandSide Handled Kettle Embossed Granite Steel Ware - Pat. Oct. 1884Vintage Retro Gold Dutch Copper Tea Kettle Made In Portugal* Spirited - Emf - Japanese / Asian / Chinese 3d Teapot - Nice!!!? *Vintage French Copper Poissoniere Fish Kettle Poacher Steam Pan Pot CookwareCast Iron "erie" Kettle W/ Fire Ring Patd Mar, 10 1891 782 (4) Erie, Pa OldAntique Pre-1940 Revere Ware Copper Tea Kettle PotVintage Revere Ware Solid Copper Colonial Style Wood Handle Tea Kettle PotVintage Ceramic Electric Tea Kettle Coffee Pot Pink Roses Japan WorkingAntique Vintage Cast Iron Smelting Melting Tea Kettle Pot Primitive Cabin DecorVintage Antique Aluminum Metal Coffee Tea Pot Kettle Wood Handle And KnobVintage Copper Tea Pot Porcelain Handle & Pull KnobVintage Enamel Tea Pot With Hinged Lid Flowers & Peacock Design (chip On Front)