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    

Collectible Kamenstein Rocket Spaceship Tea Kettle With Spout Cap. It Works!Finel Red Enamel Teapot Kaj Franck With 3 Red Snowflake Enamel CupsLg. Blue Splatterware Soup Kettle Pail Hp Roosters Flowers Rooster Art T McmurryGriswold No. 0 Cast Iron Service Kettle 580 Mini Dutch Oven Collectible AntiqueGriswold Cast Iron #8 Kettle Bean Pot "erie" Logo 10" Wide 7" Tall 6.10lb A+++Cast Iron Kettle Retired Red Elephant Tea Pot Tea Kettle TeavanaAntique Victorian Dragon Design Teapot By Moore Bros Staffordshire Circa 1880Antique Vintage Brass Coffee Percolator Pot & Stand 1900 Spirit Kettle SamovarWagner Ware Vintage Cast Iron Tea Kettle Pot Wire Handle, Made In Usa ExcellentVintage Alessi Teapot Kettle Red Bird Whistling Stainless Steel Italy Inox 18/10All Clad Tea Kettle W Whistle Polished Stainless Steel - Large Tea KettleVintage-farberware Stainless Steel Whistling Teapot Kettle #k7005, #09037, K8Vintage Yellow Enamel Teapot Made In Poland #12 1950's Gooseneck EnamelwareVtg Nos Michael Lax Blue Enamel Wood Handle Copco Teapot Danish Modern 1960s Cast Iron # 7 Kettle With Lid Dutch Oven. Bean Pot Vintage Simplex Chrome & Copper Whistling 2-1/2 Quart Tea Kettle Made Inengland Vintage Sears Roebuck And Co. " Neil The Frog " Tea Pot Dated 1978 Chinese Yixing Dragon Teapot ŮSuper 3 Tetley Tea Collectors Spoons With Cup Saucer TeapotAntique Cast Iron Tea Kettle Swing Lid Primitive Farm Tea Pot Early Americana Cast Iron Kettle By Lodge 4tk2 Made In Usa L1 6x9 1/2 Griswold "erie" # 7 Flat Bottom Kettle With Lid......saAntique Early 1800's Gooseneck Copper Tea Kettle Evw E V Wilkes Lined Nr YqzPaul Revere Ware 1801 Whistling Tea Kettle / Pot Copper Bottom 2qt Trigger SpoutVintage Anthropomorphic Hanging Skillet & Teapot Salt & Pepper With StandMackenzie-childs Enamel Courtly Check 3 Quart Tea Kettle Teapot # 7 3 Leg Cast Iron Bean Pot / Kettle 9 3/8 In Wide 7 1/2 In Tall 5 Lb 15 Oz Antique Cast Iron No 7 Gatemark 3 Legs Kettle Bean Pot Vintage Cast Iron Tea Pot Hot Water Kettle 1-gallon Unique Train Kettle Tea Pot W/ Moving Wheels And Train Whistle #236Rare Pewter Trimmed American Gray Graniteware Small TeapotVtg Wagner Cast Iron Tea Kettle Swing Lid & Wire HandleVintage Kamenstein Enamel Rooster Tea Kettle Chicken Hen Enamelware Tea Pot Vintage Yellow Enamel Tea Pot / Coffee Pot - White PatternVintage Enamel Clad 1 Quart Tea Kettle White With Black AntiqueAntique Brass Spirit Kettle Or Teapot By S Sternau & Co W/stand & Burner 1894Antique Pre Griswold Erie 783 # 5 Dated 1891 Cast Iron Pot Kettle Old Vtg Scandinavian Swedish Folk Art Rosemaling Designs Metal TeapotRare Early Collectors Erphila German Rabbit Teapot No Damage 7.5" Maybe 1937Vintage Merry Mushroom Whistling Tea Kettle New With BoxVintage Whistling Tea Kettle Teapot Solid Copper Made In EnglandVintage Art Deco Enamel Tea Pot Kettle Streamline Space Age Design -- Nice!!!Antique Toy Miniature Tea Kettle--rival Mfg. Co.Small Light Yellow Enamelware Coffee/tea Pot Kettle Black Trim Wood HandleWhite Enamel Whistling Tea Kettle " 2 Quart "Antique Late 1700's Swedish Copper Tea Kettle Tripod Cast Iron Legs Handle YqzMichael Graves Spinning Whistle Tea Pot Kettle Stainless SteelStunning Large Solid Old Vintage Cast Copper And Brass Handled Kettle 1kg Vintage Antique Cast Iron Bean Pot Kettle Cauldron W/ Lid, 3 Legged, 8" DiameterVintage Antique Rich Heavy Copper Teapot Cradle Warmer Stand Claw FeetVintage Nos 80's Tea Kettle Japan Anodized Aluminum Post Modern; Graves EraVintage Corning Ware Spice Of Life White 6 Cup Coffee/tea Pot Carafe StovetopChantal 1.8-quart Chili Red Enamel On Steel Classic Tea Kettle. Great WhistlerRetro Teapot Salt & Pepper Shakers Pink And Black Superlon PlasticsBrushed Aluminum Tea KettleSimplex Heritage Gas Tea Kettle, ChromeAntique Copper French Poissoniere Fish Kettle Poacher Steam Pan PotRochester Vintage Antique Coffee Tea Pot Non Electric Ceramic Copper Glass Vintage Paul Revere 1801 Copper Kettle TeapotVintage Revere Ware Tea Kettle Pot Rome Ny