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    

Griswold # 4 Maslin Cast Iron KettleGriswold # 6 Maslin Cast Iron KettleMackenzie-childs Enamel Courtly Black And White Check 3 Quart Tea Kettle TeapotAntique 19thc Indian Cutch Solid Silver Repousse Teapot, Jaram Bachur C.1890American Gray Graniteware One Cup Teapot With Original Tin LidAlessi Michael Graves Teapot Stainless Steel Blue Handle W/ Red Bird Excel Cond#7 Antique Footed Cast Iron Bean Pot Tall Kettle Legged Cowboy Cauldron VintageAlessi - New In Box - Michael Graves Tea Kettle #9093Antique 19th C English Victorian Copper Tea Kettle Pot Gooseneck Spout Lid # 7 3 Leg Cast Iron Bean Pot / Kettle 9 1/4 In Wide 7 1/4 Tall 6 Lb 4 OzLe Creuset Tea Pot With Lid - Emerald GreenAntique Griswolds Erie Cast Iron Scotch Bowl 782 No. 4 Kettle PotVintage Simplex Heritage 2 Qt. Copper Whistling Tea KettleSimplex Patent Coil Bottom Copper Tea Kettle EnglandSolid Brass Tea Pot Made In U.s.a - Blue Bird Design -Antique 20thc Art Deco Thai Solid Silver Teapot C.1930Large Michael Graves Stainless Tea Pot W/ Whistle ~ Tea Kettle ~ Whistling Brand New 1 Qt Staub Tea Kettle In AuburnBodum Stainless Steel 18 10 Inox Made In Italy Tea Kettle Designed By JorgensenAntique Vintage Kitchen Kettle Thick Pot Copper Bottom Sides Primitive Decor B1Kamenstein Carousel World Of Motion Steam Driven Kettle Teapot Merry Go RoundAntique Cast Iron Footed Pot Kettle Cauldron W /lidVintage Farberware Tea Kettle With Whistle Chrome Wood Handle Mid Century ModernTeapot Goes With Ballonoff"wagner" Cast Iron Toy Kettle: Circa 1924Vintage Enamel Ware Collection Berggren Pot, Pan, Tea Pot / Kettle Coffee Mug!!Antique Victorian English Copper & Brass Tea Kettle Teapot EnglandEarly 1900s Vintage Silver Plate Hot Water Kettle Teakettle Teapot Tea Pot StandVintage Russell Hobbs Electric Tea Kettle Stainless Steel Chrome Bakelite C330Vintage Copper Whistling Blue Bird Tea Kettle With Blue Handle Vintage Art Deco Whistling Bird Tea Pot KettleSmall Enamelware Teapot Red With White Polka Dots Retro Kitchen DecorRein Kupfer Germany * Modern Stainless & Copper * Ship Horn Whistle Tea KettleAntique Blue Swirl Agateware Graniteware Coffee Tea Pot Enamel SwirlCathrineholm ~ Holland ~ Yellow Enameled TeapotLe Creuset Enamel-on-steel Zen 1.6-quart Teakettle White Whistle Tea KettleVintage Revere Ware Copper 1 Qt. Whistling Tea Kettle Rome, N.y. Usa Sm 81 Michael Graves Tea Kettle With Red Whistle Signed!!!Vintage Art Deco Tea Pot Revere Ware Stainless SteelTea Kettle, Yellow Porcelain On Metal, M. Kamenstein Inc., 7" DiameterVintage Rome Metalware Metal Ware Copper Tea Kettle Teapot Wood Handle 10.25" Tea Pot Shaped Tea Bag HolderStunning Rare Solid Vintage Copper Kettle With Stand Apprentice Piece 255g 17cm Enamel Orange Teapot Vintage Simplex Solid Copper / Chrome Tea Kettle (rack 1) Circa 1760-1780 Rare Marked "am" Hearth Tea Kettle , Cast Iron W/lidWagner Ware Tea Kettle Cast Iron Humidifier Wood Stove Teakettle 2.5 QuartLe Creuset White Enamel Kone Kettle Teakettle Discontinued France N/r!Vintage Red White Metal Enamelware Tea Pot W/ Wooden Handle Shabby ChippyMackenzie Childs Enamel Teapot Vintage Singing Chirping Bird 1 Qt Teapot Kettle Red Pink Handle Cory#121 Vintage Enamelware Kettle Tea Water Pot FlowersVtg 50's Retro Silex Candle Warmer Glass/chrome Coffee Tea Pot / Caraf Food DipVintage French Copper Poissoniere Fish Kettle Poacher Steam Pan Pot CookwareArt Deco Chrome/copper/bakelite Whistling Griswold Tea Kettle Lsdt 29Mikasa - Garden Harvest - Whistling Tea Kettle - Vintage Revere Ware Copper Bottom Whistling Tea Pot / KettleVintage Cast Iron Tea Kettle, Teapot, Swing Lid, Coiled Handle, VgcCopper Kettle 8 1/2"hHandmade Copper Tea Kettle, Dovetailed, Bail Handle, Early 20th C.