Sterling Tea Service and Coffee Pots

Tea arrived in Europe from China in the early 1600s. Despite its association with the aristocracy, tea actually began as a drink of sailors—in fact, it was considered a lower-class beverage throughout much of the 17th century. But all that changed in the late 1600s when England became infatuated with tea.

Although the English enjoyed their tea, they found it less than palatable to drink it in the traditional Chinese way, in which tea was brewed and subsequently sipped from the same cup. Swallowing floating tea leaves was deemed distasteful, so English artisans turned to the designs of porcelain vessels used to serve hot Chinese rice wines. These squat, low containers quickly evolved into teapots, with strainers in their spouts to keep tea leaves from spilling into cups.

English and French silversmiths began making silver tea services in the early 1700s. These were considered an upscale improvement on ceramic tea sets. Silver tea services generally included a teapot, a matching coffee pot, a sugar dish, a creamer, a waste bowl for used tea, and a matching tray. While not necessarily considered part of the tea service, teaspoons, sugar spoons, and sugar tongs often accompanied these sets.

Some of the most elaborate tea services were produced during the Victorian era. Silversmiths such as Dixon and Sons, Broadhead and Atkin, and Bradbury & Co. were famous for their tea services, and they brought their best to the Great Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851. Many of the dominant patterns of the time were neoclassical in style, copying formal Greek and Roman designs. At the other end of the spectrum were tea services in the rococo style, which featured intricate vines, branches, and other patterns taken from nature.

Toward the end of the 19th century, design preferences shifted again as silver tea services became much more simplified and streamlined, putting them years ahead of the overall aesthetics of the time. Dixon and Sons was at the forefront of this movement in England. In America, Reed & Barton and Rogers Bros. were the leaders, adhering to formal, neoclassical treatments.

By the early 20th century, the look of silver tea services varied greatly from region to region. Some European designers stuck to the rococo designs that had been popular during the Victorian era, but across the Atlantic in America, the Arts and Crafts movement was in full swing. Silversmiths at the Kalo Shop (1900 to 1970) produced a range of designs—from "bean pot" teapots with ivory insulators on the handles to taller, fluted services with handsomely notched spouts. A short-lived offshoot of Kalo, the TC Shop (1910 to 1928), also in Chicago, produced hand-hammered tea services, whose forms were spare and geometric.

In New York, Scandinavians like Peer Smed made tall and elegant tea services, their weight often being of a point of value for contemporary collectors. Some were custom stamped or engraved with their owner’s initials or seals, and many were decorated with Art and Crafts-style vines, flowers, and bands.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Teainfusers.info

Teainfusers.info

Start some tea brewing, get your finger sandwiches ready and sit down to this exquisite reference by Elizabeth Wil… [read review or visit site]

Silversugartongs.com

Silversugartongs.com

Graham Hodges' collection of antique Georgian (as in King George of England) silver sugar tongs from 1760 to 1820. … [read review or visit site]

Chicago Silver

Chicago Silver

Paul Somerson's incredible reference on handwrought metalwork from the American Arts and Crafts movement of the ear… [read review or visit site]

Silver Marks Encyclopedia

Silver Marks Encyclopedia

An extensive reference guide to silver marks, hallmarks, trademarks and maker's marks found on antique and vintage … [read review or visit site]

Silver at the Victoria and Albert

Silver at the Victoria and Albert

This is a great reference site on silver, courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum. You can view silver items acc… [read review or visit site]

The Gilbert Collection

The Gilbert Collection

The late Sir Arthur Gilbert's collection of European silver, gold, enamel, and other items is now housed at the Vic… [read review or visit site]

Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj

Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj

“Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj” was the title of a 2008 exhibition at Columbia University’s Mi… [read review or visit site]

TheStieffCompany.com

TheStieffCompany.com

Scott Perkins is an enthusiastic evangelist for The Stieff Company, a significant Baltimore silversmith and maker o… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

C1910 Reed & Barton Aesthetic Silver Plate Repousse 3 Piece Tea Set No ReserveBlack / Silver Satin Tea Dress Party Dress Cocktail Shiny Satin Cd Tv Size 18-20Rare Vintage Set Of Six Silver Plated Guilloche Enamelled Bean End Coffee SpoonsEnglish Sterling Tea Set Rare Work Shop 1839 55ozSuperb Rare English Antique 1903 Solid Silver Novelty Sedan Chair Tea Caddy BoxBeautiful Heavy Antique English 1902 Solid Sterling Silver Tea Caddy Box 19th 20th Cen Chinese Silver Tea Caddy Enamel Birds W/ Filigree Stones Coral Smart Large Ornate ~ Silver Plated ~ Fluted Spirit Kettle On Stand ~ C1890 Antique 1912 Set Of 6 H Fisher & Co Hallmarked Solid Silver Tea Spoons - 561 P31C1890s Wilcox Silver Plate Co Aesthetic Style Hot Water Kettle On Stand No ResExcellent Large & Heavy Edwardian Sterling Silver Fluted 3pc Tea Set 19055 Piece International Sterling Silver Tea Set "royal Danish" PatternSuperb Large Heavy Antique Victorian 1898 Solid Sterling Silver Tea Caddy Box H H Curtis & Co. Sterling Silver Tea Strainer, Original Patina, Really Nice !! Very Nice Antique Chinese Japanese Pure Silver Floral Teapot Pot Jungin MeijiAntique Georgian Sterling Silver Teapot Stand, 1786, 115 Grams, Charles Fox Victorian Antique Silver Plated Three Part Tea Service - Walker & Hall C1890Gorham Silver Teapot Lion C1859 President Lincoln Tea Set Perfect Chinese Porcelain B/w Tea-caddy + Silver Cover 18th C. Kangxi MarkAntique Joseph Angel I Silver Tea Pot London 1835 William Iv Regency 15 Tr OzVery Nice Kitchenaid Pro Line Series Silver Coffee Grinder Mod Kpcg100np1 Clean!Vtg Silver Plated Tea Set X 4 Reed And Barton 1873A Cased Set Of Solid Silver Tea-spoons Hallmarked London 1903 (william Comyns)Magnificent Russian Silver Coffee Pot Moscow 1863Outstanding Set Of Six Art Deco Sterling Silver Gilt & Enamel Coffee Spoons 1932James Avery Sterling Silver Teapot Charm Retired Rare Original PatinaA.g. Schultz Sterling Tea Set Hand Crafted C1900 114 OzVintage H/mk .925 Sterling Silver Tea Strainer Infuser Ball1928-29 Fine Antique Dutch Openwork Silver Tea Strainer Holder Infuser BaseRare Antique Islamic Zenzibar For Omani / Qatari Market Silver Coffee Pot DallahDelonghi Lattissima Plus En 520sl Nespresso Coffee & Espresso Machine - SilverVery Rare Je Caldwell Sterling Silver Floral Repousse 7 Piece Tea Set CnxTop Quality Bullet Shaped Sterling Silver Teapot By Edward Barnard & Sons Ltd.George Iii Style Solid Silver Teapot Sheffield 1917 Hutton & Sons (704.6g)Cased Modernist 1941 Solid Sterling Silver Tea/coffee Spoons Art Nouveau StyleSet 7 Antique R. Wallace & Sons Violet Sterling Silver Tea Spoons 5 & 7/8" 143gAntique Persian Sterling Silver 3 Piece Tea Service In Repousse 29.5 Oz.scrapEnglish Sterling Teapot Zodiac Charles Harris 1876 Indian 2 Antique Russian Solid Silver Gilt Hand Engraved Tea Spoons From Moscow C. 1882American Girl Felicity's Tilt Top Table & Chairs, With Ag Silver Tray & Tea SetRare 1760 American Coin Silver Mote Spoon Tea Hallmarked 18th Century AntiqueLovely Thomas Bradbury 1898 Delightful Quality Victorian Silver Coffee Pot 529g Solid Sterling Silver Set X 6 Coffee Spoons Hallmarked Sheffield 1933/343 Vintage Sterling Silver Pieces: Tea Strainer/photo Frame/tray Porter BlanchardOutstanding Sterling Silver Teapot With Serpent Spout Dated Birmingham 1923.Antique - Boxed Set Of 12 Solid Silver Tea / Coffee Spoons + Tongs - Dated 1913Gorgeous 4 Pc Silver Plate Tea / Coffee ServiceArt Nouveau Antique Solid Sterling Silver 6 Tea/ Coffee Spoons 1906 VgcAntique Set Of Six Solid Silver French Tea Coffee Spoons Hallmarked 1910 NrJos Lownes Silver Tea Set Friend Of Paul Revere C1805 Outstanding Sterling Silver Teapot With Serpent Spout Dated Birmingham 1823.Set Of 6 Solid Silver Trefid Tea Spoons –sheffield 1918Keurig K130 In-room Commercial Brewing System K-cup Coffee Maker Black/ Silver A Fine Solid Sterling Silver Georgian Style Coffee Pot By Adie Bros Ltd 1925Indian Silver Tea Set Tray Manner P. Orr & Son Madras C1890Set Of 5 Beautiful Solid Silver Coffee Spoons – Birmingham 1931Georgian Silver Antique Teapot Five Hallmarks Stunning Teapot Antique SterlingUnusual Victorian Solid Silver Caddy Tea Spoon, London 1896Vtg Sterling Silver Nugget Coffee Bean Necklace Earrings Set Brutalist 30.4gSuperb Antique American Sterling Silver Coffee Set, 1443 Grams, C1860, S T Cross