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    

Antique 3 Legged Cast Iron Bean Pot Kettle Gate Mark Ce7 "nice"Griswold Cast Iron #7 Regular KettleWagner Cast Iron # 6 Flat Bottom KettleAntique Dated 1783 Hand Hammered Copper Ale Tankard Tea/coffee Kettle/pot Nr YqzLehigh Stove Co. Lehighton, Pa, Cast Iron Tea Kettle, No.8. W. Hailes Patent Vintage Cathrineholm Enamelware Green Lotus Design Teapot Mid Century Griswold Self Basting Skillet Cover #8 And KettleAntique 1800's Griswold Cast Iron "erie" # 9 Flat Bottom Kettle Sonoma Villa Home Interiors Fruit Tea Pot With Lid Rare Rare RareRare Antique French Enamelware Blue Water Kettle Can - Best Form Htf Graniteware West Bend 5 Quart Country Kettle Electric Cooker, Retro Avocado GreenBeautiful Robin's Egg Blue Old Enamel Ware Tea Pot Kettle With Hinged LidVtg White/red Enamelware Coffee Pot W/handle Porcelain Tea Pot & Cup!Vintage Orange Black Enamelware Teapot Tea Kettle Wood Handle Mid Century RetroLessi-italy-michael-graves-stainless-steel-bird-whistle Tea Kettle Vintage Copper Tea Kettle Odi Made In KoreaNice Small 8" Antique 3 Legged~cast Iron Bean Pot/ Kettle , Peyote Drum L@@kVintage Enameled Coffee Pots Tea PotVintage Copper Goose Neck Tea Pot With Brass Fixed Handle& Hard Wood Grip SignedVintage Paul Revere Signed Copper Kettle Wooden Handle Tea PotVintage Corning Ware 6 Cup Stove Top Tea Pot Tea KettleAntique Vintage Large Copper Tea Pot Kettle 12" Brass AccentPrincess House Heritage 44oz Crystal Glass Coffee / Tea Pot W/ Insert SteepRevere Ware Signature Whistling Copper & Ss 2 Qt Teakettle Tea Pot Kettle Vintage Gold Aluminum Tea Pot 3.5" Teapot Metal Cookie Cutter #na8015Solid Copper Cookie Cutters-leaf-tea Pot-pumpkin (lg.) 1" Deep Set Of 3 Stamped