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    

Vtg Mid-century Catherineholm Norway White On Yellow Lotus Enamel Tea Kettle NrVintage No. 7 B Cast Iron, 3 Leg Kettle, Bean Pot, Cauldron, Cleaned & SeasonedLarge Antique Copper Kettle, Soutterware England Circa 1900 & Just 99p Start !!!Mackenzie Childs Courtly Check Tea Kettle - Small*authentic* Griswold #0 Cast Iron "colonial Design" Tea Kettle W/ Lid No ReserveAtq Cast Iron Hanging Fire Wood Stove Hearth Cook Kettle Cauldron Bean Pot 15x11Mackenzie-childs Enamelware Courtly Check Three Quart Tea Kettle Teapot Vintage Griswold #8 795 Erie Cast Iron Footed Bulge Pot Kettle Signed Magnificent & Finest Quality Antique Silver Plated 3 Piece Spirit Tea Kettle SetVintage Bodum Tea Kettle C Jorgensen Stainless Steel Teapot Italy 18/10 Vintage Country Kitchen Copperware English Teapot Bud Vase Cookpot Measuring CupExcellent Vintage Kamenstein "world Of Motion" Carousel Teapot/kettle/turbineVintage Roseville Blue Zephyr Lily Art Pottery TeapotVintage Alessi Richard Sapper Melody Tea Pot Kettle - Excellent ConditionVintage Wagner Ware Cast Iron Kettle. Sidney OhVintage Copper Whistling Teapot Tea Kettle Cap Lid W/ Enamel Blue Bird FinialKamenstein Train Tea Kettle Red Enamel 1998 Motion Steam Engine #613Unmark Cast Iron #7 Kettle Bean Pot/cauldron 3 Leg Gypsy Cowboy With /gate Mark Mackenzie- Childs Coffee/teapot Creamer Sugar & 2cups Retired New 6 Pieces Vintage Cast Iron 3 Leg Kettle Bean Pot/ Tallow CauldronVintage Berggren Swedish Folk Art Design & Style White Enamel Tea KettleVtg Solid Copper And Brass Tea Kettle Old Dutch Made In Portugal W/ Wood HandleStunning Quality Silver Plated Restaurant Or Hotelware Teapot ~by Elkington & CoTwo Vintage Tea Caddy Spoons - Harrogate - Tea Pot Design And 1937 CoronationPillsbury Doughboy Lot Tea Pot Enamel White And Blue Paper Towel Holder & DollVintage 1801 Copper Revere Ware Tea Kettle Pot Brass Wood Handle Rome Ny3 Brown Bag Cookie Molds Beehive(1992) Teapot(1998) Christmas Tree(1986)Mackenzie-childs Aurora Enamel Tea Kettle 2 Qt ~ NewSamovar-type Copper Tea Kettle W/ Brass & Wood Handles; Base W/ Heating InsertNew Michael Graves Designer Memphis Art Tea Kettle Pot In Box Target 2000Vintage Colorful Enamelware Teapot Vintage~clear Glass~pyrex~tea Kettle~pot~warmer~w/ Corning Ware Warming StandLe Creuset Whistling Tea Kettle Cobalt Blue 3 Piece Rare 1.7 Quart NwtVtg Revere Ware 10 Cup Rome, Ny Whistling Lid Tea Kettle Ssteel/copper Bottom Staub Round Cast Iron Teapot / Kettle, 1 Qt Dark Green 1650085Revere Ware Tea KettleCalphalon Tea Kettle 4302 2 Qt.Vintage Aluminum Coffee Pot And Aluminum Teapot Grease Catcher Wrapped Handles Vintage Green Enamel 0ne Cup Tea Pot Very Old Cute Piece For KitchenMackenzie Childs Parchment Check Enamel Tea Kettle - 2 QuartCirculon 2 Qt Tea Kettle- Brand New In Box- With Safety GripAntique 1800's Copper 3 Legged Tea Pot Teapot Kettle, Goose Neck & Hinged SpoutVtg Green/white Enamelware Metal Stovetop Campfire Coffee Pot Kettle Percolator Vintage Copper Tea Pot With Porcelain Ceramic Handle And LidRare Pristine England Pottery Charming Large Blue Teapot 6 Cup 48oz Tea PotVintage Lg Premier Pure Aluminum 5 Qt Water Kettle/pot W/wood HandleVintage Paul Revere Ware #e97c 2 To 3 Cup Tea Kettle W/ Copper BottomCopper Kettle 2qt....vintage....brand New In Original Box...pretty Handle!!Vintage Whistler Gemco Glass Coffee Tea Pot Kettle, No Drip Server, Sugar BowlSolid Copper Tea KettleKamenstein Of Germany "fish Bubble" Tea Kettle Michael Graves Design Stainless Steel Modern Slide "lid" Tea Kettle Red SpoutVintage Copper Tea Kettle Gottfrid-carlsch, Eskilstuna(153) Vintage Apple Whistling Tea Pot ~enamel~2-qt. Great ColorVintage Aluminum Kettle, Bail Handle, 5" HighVintage Copper Tea Kettle Teapot Blue White Porcelain HandleCast Iron Lid For Cast Iron Tea PotCast Iron Lid For Cast Iron Tea PotVintage Mickey Mouse Tea Kettle From Disney World White Collectible Stove TopVintage Salt And Pepper Shakers, Adorable Coffee Pot And Teapot, Dark Brown