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    

Alessi : Whistling Tea Kettle With Black Bird / Induction / Michael GravesVintage Griswold Erie 8qt Cast Iron Yankee Bowl KettleWhite Red Trim Enamel Soup Kettle Pail Hp Rooster Hen Eggs Rooster Art T McmurryVtg Antique White Red Speckled Spatterware Enamelware Coffee Tea Pot Graniteware#7 Cast Iron Bean Kettle Pot Kamenstein Mki Design Rocket Tea KettleAlessi Michael Graves Post Modernist Whistling Spinning Tea Kettle TeapotNambe Chirp Kettle #mt0305 Brand New And In Box - Plus Paperwork Nice Antique Double Yixing Teapot Good Condition With Mark Antique Dated 1891 “erie” No. 3 Cast Iron Scotch Bowl Kettle (pre-griswold)Vintage Berggren Porcelain Enamel Rooster Coffee Pot Kettle Mid Century SwedenVintage " Erie" Pre Griswold #8 Campfire Kettle/bean Pot( Pat.march 10 1891)Kamenstein Carousel Tea Kettle Pot ~ Steam Powered Merry Go Round vintage Collection Old Handmade Jade Rare Chinese Zodiac Around Teapot Tibet Vintage Simplex Solid English Copper Kettle Chrome Over Copper Made In England Vintage Collect Decoration handwork Jade Vivid Copper Monkey Lid Tibet TeapotSimplex Heritage 2 Quart Chrome Finish Copper Tea Kettle For Gas StovetopsNew Stove Top Blue White Cornflower 9 Cup Coffee Tea Pot PercolatorAntique Victorian Blue White Graniteware And Pewter Tea Pot / Coffee PotKamenstein World Of Motion Steam Driven Carousel Teapot Novelty Tea KettleVintage Cast Iron Kettle Pot Dutch Oven With Lid No 8 10 1/4 Made In UsaVtg Revere Ware Signature 2qt Stainless Copper Clad Tea Kettle 1801 87-c Nice+++Vintage Green Enamel Coffee Pot Tea Pot Camping DecorSuperb Collection Vintage Old Jade Chic Tibet Silver Cattle Lid Dragons Teapot Vintage French Copper Poissoniere Fish Kettle Poacher Steam Pan Pot CookwareVintage Enamel Coffee Pot And Tea Pot Speckled Blue SetVtg Enameled Teapot 4 Cup Cream W/ Green Trim Enamelware Nice ConditionVintage Creamy Yellow Mid-century Enamel Tea Kettle Teapot Bail HandleCast Iron Tea KettleVintage Graniteware Enamelware Small Kettle Teapot White & 2 Cups Rustic MetalVintage Gemco Blue Micro Kettle 3 Cup Heat Resistant Glass B-26 Tea Coffee Pot vintage Collection Old Bronze Casting Wealth Vivid Fish Statue Teapot Vintage Cast Iron Tea Pot. Spring Handle. Heavy.Vintage 3 1/2qt Cast Iron Bucket KettleAlessi Spinning Whistle Tea Kettle By Michael GravesVintage Marietta Pa Pennsylvania Cast Iron Gypsy Steam Coffee Kettle W/ Lid No.9Antique Art Deco Solid Copper Tea Kettle With Bird Whistle/blue Handle -usa MadePaula Deen Metal Tea Pot Speckled Olive GreenCollectable Decoration porcelain Chic Vivid Rabbit Lid Gecko Statue Tibet TeapotAntique Art Deco Enamelware Graniteware Teapot Made In Czechoslovakia Czech NiceIconic Michael Graves "whistle Tea Kettle" / Great ConditionEarly Vintage Cast Iron Bean Pot Kettle Cauldron Smelting Pot Bail Handle Usa Revere Ware Solid Copper Heritage Teakettle Tea Kettle # 2222- 2 Qt New Kamenstein World Of Motion Steam Driven Carousel Teapot - Very Nice!Vtg. Large Enamel~graniteware Coffee Pot~kettle~wood Handle~speckled White/navyVintage Tea Cozy Caddy Puffy Fabric With Copper Tea Pot Great Piece!!!Vintage Mid Century Aluminum Tea Kettle Pot Art Deco Japan3 Pc. - 3 Qt. Revere Ware Double Boiler/steamer Pot / KettleVintage Redware Large Black Rooster Teapot Lidded Container Bean PotChantal Stand Teapot Warmer Tealight Glass Chunky Trivet Cozy vintage Collection Old Bronze Casting Rare Butterfly Decoration Teapot Vintage Miracle Maid Cookware Aluminum Kettle Heavy Cast Tea Pot Kitchen WareRevere Ware Whistling 6 Cup Tea Kettle Vintage Red/white Speckles Enamelware Coffee Pot Kettle Hinged Lid Cute!!Antique Red Enamel Graniteware Tea PotCloisonne Miniature Teapot Hanging Decorative Tabletop Ornament Colorful MintVintage " Erie" Pre Griswold #8 Campfire Kettle/bean Pot( Pat.march 10 1891)