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    

Doulton Burslem Flow Blue Royles Patent Self Pouring Teapot C1886Vintage Griswold Cast Iron 8 Dutch Oven Kettle 1036b Heat Ring & 1037 Lid NiceGriswold Erie Cast Iron Toy Salesmans Sample Kettle Vintage Wagner Ware Sidney -0- Magnalite 4133 M Tea Kettle# 6 3 Leg Cast Iron Bean Pot / Kettle 8 1/2 Inches Wide 8 Inches Tall #7 Cast Iron Bean Pot Kettle Gatemarked Alessi Italy Moderntea Kettle By Michael Graves Blue Handle, Red Bird Used Vintage Havard French Hammered Copper 3 Qt Covered Pot/kettle Iron Handles W/lidLimited Edition 1801 Paul Revere Colonial Two 2 Quart Solid Copper Tea KettleAntique Cast Iron Griswold # 3 Kettle With Smoke RingOxo Good Grips Anniversary Edition Uplift Tea KettleIslamic Silver White Metal Coffee Tea Pot Bedouin Dallah Arab Oman TurkishAntique Vtg Cast Iron Cauldron Bean Pot Footed Camp Fire Kettle Wire HandleVintage 1801 Revere Ware Copper Tea Kettle Pot Wood Handle NrAntique Cast Iron Kettle/pot, 7 L P# 7 3 Leg Cast Iron Bean Pot / Kettle 9 1/4 In Wide 6 3/4 In Tall 6 Lb 13 Oz Chantal / Eva Zeisel Enamel On Steel Tea Kettle Vintage Guardian Service Dutch Oven Kettle W/ Rack - No LidVintage # 7 Blacklock Foundry Tea Pot# 7 3 Leg Cast Iron Bean Pot / Kettle 9 1/8 In Wide 6 1/4 In Tall 7 Lb 0 Oz Vintage Banner Heavy Cast Aluminum 5 Qt. Dutch Oven Cooker Kettle Pot RoasterNostalgia Electrics Rkp630 Retro Series Kettle Popcorn MakerChantal Ss 18/10 Stainless Tea Pot Kettle 1.5 Q Sl37-15Antique 1qt Solid Copper Gooseneck Tea Kettle Pot Rothberg Oy Turku Finland!Rare Antique Vtg Teapot Flatback Tin Cookie Cutter Tea Pot Primitive Kitchen OldAntique Copper Kettle, Tea Pot, Copper Pot , VintageAntique Coal Heated Brass Body Samovar Urn Coffee Tea Pot 15" Tall RestoreMiniature Doll Tea Pot Graniteware Enamelware Blue & White 3" Wide 2" Tall CuteVintage Enamelware Granite Thistle Ware Deep Violet Purple Shade Bucket KettleSupreme Housewares Whistling Tea Kettle, Bee HivePillsbury Doughboy Chef 2 Qt. Tea KettleGranite Ware Small Teapot Kelly Green Very RareDansk Teapot Yellow Enamel With Teak Wood Handles Retro 10 Cup 1801 Revere Ware Copper + Stainless Steel Stove Top Tea Pot Rome NyRevere Ware Whistling Tea Kettle, 2 Qt.Vintage Corning Ware Mid Century Tea Kettle Atomic Look Ceramic W/metal Euc!Vintage Cast Iron Kettle ~ Wood Stove Humidifier ~ Tea Pot Metal Black Enamel ~Revere 6 Cup Whistling Tea Kettle Stainless Copper Bottom NewCast Iron Rooster Trivet, 7" Country Decor Pot Holder Teapot Stand Wall ArtFlat Bottom Safety Kettle #8 With Wooden Handles; No LidVtg Cinsa Enamelware 9 Pc Lot Floral Flower W/ Teapot Cups Mugs Pan Plate BowlVintage L Batlin & Sons Jack + The Beanstalk Coffee Tea Pot Japan Elf PixieVintage 2l Solid Copper Tea Kettle W/ Gooseneck Spout Made In Finland By Opa Oy Blue Cottage Cookie Jar And Teapot Set - Preferred Stock KitchenwareSylvester And Tweety Tea Kettle A Kamenstein BrandVintage Copperware Copper Tea Pot Kettle Made In Portugal, Marked On BottomVintage 1801 Copper Revere Ware Tea Kettle Pot Brass & Wood HandleVintage Tea Kettle-made In Holland2 Vtg Revere Ware Whistling Tea Pot Paul Revere Copper Bottom/1.5 Qt. SauceoanVtg 1801 Revere Ware Whistling Tea Pot-copper Bottom Chrome Plate- 3 QtTea Kettle Very Beautiful Dutch Looking Design By NancoVintage 8" White/black Enamelware Tea Kettle Camping Vintage Alluminum Mirro Metal Coffee Pot Kettle Retro Home CollectibleVintage Black Pottery Tea Pot With White Enamel CoverPorcelain Art Miniature Tea Pot Italian French Versailles Style Cherub PuttiCast Iron Tea Kettle Antique Copper Tea Kettle With Wood Handle, Rivets, Original PatinaLarge 4 Quart Stainless Steel Whistling Tea Kettle With Stainless Infuser @new@Vntg Empress Ware Stainless Tea Kettle/ Ny Stamping Co--collectibleAntique/vintage Italian Copper Tea Kettle