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    

#7 Cast Iron Bean Pot Kettle W/gate Mark 9 1/8 X 9 1/2#7 Cast Iron Round Bottom, Pot Or Kettle With 3 Legs, Original Handle Mackenzie Childs Courtly Check Teapot Trivet, Cheese Knife, Dinner/lunch NapkinsCathrineholme Enamelware Teapot - Flame Orange Lotus -large 6 Cups Xlt W LabelAntique # 7 Cast Iron 3 Leg Kettle Bean Pot Cauldron Cowboy Camp Gate Mark#7 Cast Iron Round Bottom Pot Or Kettle With 3 Legs With Original Handle!!!Camp Chef Citp Cast Iron Tea Pot Height 5" X Diameter 7" Weight 6lbs 5ozEarly Primitive Antique 1800s Cast Iron Bean Kettle Hearth Pot Gate MarkVintage Alessi Teapot Kettle Red Bird Whistling Stainless Steel Italy Inox 18/10Griswold # 3 Cast Iron Dutch Oven Kettle No Reserve!!Simplex Heritage 2 Qt Copper Tea Kettle (made In England) With Quick Boil CoilsVintage Simplex Made In England Tea Kettle For Gas Range Chrome Over Copper EucGreat Mickey Mouse Gourmet Collection Tea Kettle By Michael Graves (a)Vtg Stainless Inox Teapot Italy Danish Modern Bodum Tea Kettle C Jorgensen ItalyNice Picquot Ware Modernist Disign Tea Set Teapot Water Jug Milk SugarVintage Bodum C Jorgensen Stainless And Wood Teapot Tea KettleVintage Blue Dru Teakettle Tea Kettle Royal Holland Dutch Cast Iron EnamelVintage Cast Iron Flat Bottom Kettle.bean Pot #9 Size 10"1/2 W 7"1/4 TallAluminum Kettle Teapot Grease Jar Pot Chantal Blue Enamelware Teapot Kettle Genuine Hohner Harmonica Whistle VrwSmall # 7 3 Leg Cast Iron Bean Pot / Kettle 9 1/16 In Wide 7 1/4 In Tall Circa 1830 , Rare Tilter Tea Kettle , Cast Iron , No Damage , Very Good Alessi Stainless Steel Small Kettle With Bird Shape Value @ $184.00 Save Big!!Art Deco Silver & Black Tea Kettle Wagner Ware 0 Magnalite 4133m Machine AgeKamenstein Pink Pig Enamel Tea Kettle Teapot Funky Mid Century Retro Mod VtgAlessi Electric Blue Safety Kettle Michael Graves Italy Authentic 2001Vintage Club Harvest Gold Yellow Aluminum Frypan Stock Pot Tea Kettle Dutch OvenUsed- Simplex English Solid Copper Kettle 2qt - Free ShippingMichael Graves Tea Kettle And Tea-coffee Server-2 Separate ItemsVtg Copper Kettle Coffee Tea Pot Tall Set Mugs Brass PortugalOld Childs Graniteware Teapot And Cup EnamelwareVintage Small 6" Copper & Brass Teapot Tea Pot Kettle Coppercraft Guild, UsaLarge Supersize South West Ceramics Tea Council Teapot - Washing Machine PersilVintage "erie" Griswold 802 Cast Iron Three Legged Kettle 9 Pat. Mar 10,9Antique Wagner Sidney O Size 8 Cast Iron Tea Kettle W/ Gate Mark Clean SeasonedLot Of 18 Copper Bottom Revere Ware Pots Pans Kettle With Lids Riverside Vintage Cornflower Blue Corning Ware Coffee Tea Pot 9 Cup P 149Enamel Teapot/tea Kettle ~ Blue With White Polka Dots Vintage Light Blue Enamelware Coffee/teapot Vintage Coppercraft Guild Copper Teapot & Warmer & Black Wrought Iron StandBeautiful Vintage White Enamelware Tea Pot- Kettle Kitchen, Camping Or Show Vintage Aluminum Wear Ever Tea Pot No. 41 Tacuco Antique Gws&s British Copper Brass Teapot Railroad Picnic Bentley Rolls Royce ??Nightmare Before Christmas Pumpkin Nightmare Teapot Westland NewVintage Antique Cast Iron Kettle SkilletTeavana Verre Illumine` Collection 33 Oz Glass Belle Tea Pot In Box UnusedCast Iron Witch's Pot, Kettle, Cauldron Signed Jumbo 8, Bail Campfire Fireplace Vintage Sears Whistling Tea Kettle 2 1/2 Quart Heavy Weight Aluminum Yellow UsaRoyal Albert Whistling Tea Kettle Collectors Delight Old Country Roses Pattern Cute Metal " Red Steam Enginetrain " Tea Kettle " For Wood Stove TooJohn Wright Enameled Cast-iron Water Kettle, Wedgewood BlueVintage Wagner Ware Roaster 6 Quart Lipped Kettle With Lid #736 #736cGeneral Electric Chrome Tea Kettle Mid Century Modern In Great Condition #a1k52Vintage Gemco Micro Kettle, B-55, Microwave Tea Kettle, Never-used ConditionHammered Copper - Brass Tea Pot / Tea KettleLot Set Vtg Black Teapot Kettle Wall Pocket Utensil Holder Salt Pepper ShakersVtg Cast Aluminum Soup-r-pot 3-leg Pot Kettle J&s Mfg. Hazen Eugene Or. Marked!!Vintage Priscilla Ware 5 Cup Aluminum Tea Kettle Pot / Caddy Infuser StrainerVtg Aluminum Set Small Teapot W/wrapped Wicker Handle Salt Pepper Shakers JapanCopco Whistling Tea Kettle Very Stylish Modern White