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    

English Sterling Silver Tea Set Barnards 1891 Griffin CrestSilver And Cloisonne Enamel Tea Glass Holder By Feodor Ruckert For FabergeAntique Victorian Silver Plated Samovar / Tea Urn Sturges, Bladdon & Middletown Japanese Sterling Tea Set Gorham 1883 Floral On SatinImpressive Armorial Silver Tea Set, Benjamin Smith, London 1839.Vintage Mexico Mexican 925 Sterling Silver Tea Caddy Or Tobacco Leaf BoxGeorgian Large Sterling Silver Tea Pot 1826Unusual Antique Persian Style Solid Silver & Enamel Tea Spoon; Birmingham 1933 Antique Russian Imperial Solid Silver 84 Coffee Pot By Karl FabergVintage Solid Silver Indian Tea Caddy Decorated With Elephants & BuffalowSuper George Iii 1803 Delightful Abstinando King Silver Teapot 538g AmershamVintage Sheridan Silver Company Samovar Urn Coffee Pot Hot Water PotEtruscan By Gorham Sterling Demitasse Tea Set 5pc 2,700+ Grams Of 925English Sterling Coffee Pot Griffin Family Crest 1897Georgian Solid Silver Teapot, London 1783, Charles Aldridge & Henry GreenLovely Antique Russian 84 Solid Silver Gilt & Enamel Tea Spoon C1910Beautiful Large Antique Dutch Export Solid Silver Tea Caddy 1890Fancy Victorian Whiting Sterling Silver Floral Lily Pattern Overcup Tea StrainerAntique Set Six 830s Norwegian Silver Gilt & Enamel Tea Spoons & Tongs M.hammerImportant Georgian Solid Silver Large Teapot Hallmarked 1809 Sterling Bateman NrAntique English Sheffield Glasgow Sterling Silver Tea Set Teapot Creamer Sugar Set Six Solid Sterling Silver & Enamel Coffee Spoons J. Tostrup Norway.Superb Large Edwardian Sterling Silver Fluted Teapot 1904, 773 Grams.Outstanding Vintage Solid Silver Tea Caddy Hallmarked 1917 Sterling Very Rare NrArt Nouveau Solid Silver Twin Handled Tea Strainer Hm Sheffield C1920'sGeorge Iii , Bachelor Silver Tea Pot, 1808, 348gmA+ Lot Reed & Barton Sterling Silver Francis I 1st Iced Tea Spoons X 9A Fine Antique Victorian Solid Sterling Silver Tea Pot Henry Harrison 1892Superb George Unite Sterling Silver Tea Caddy.date:birmingham 1918Antique Silver Large American Reed & Barton Aesthetic Movement Spirit KettleC1850 Newcastle Silver Tea Caddy Spoon By David Reid & SonsBeautiful Antique Dutch Sterling Silver Tea StrainerVictorian Silver ~ Circular Teapot ~ London 1854 Pierce & BurrowsQuality Silver Tea Set - Sheffield 1927 - 66oz - John RoundAntique Solid Silver Tea Pot Circa 1900 Antique Boxed Set Hallmarked 6 Silver Teaspoons Coffee Spoons & Sugar Tongs 1918Lovely Silver Plated 4 Piece Tea & Coffee Set By F.h.p. Of SheffieldVictorian Quadruple Plate Wilcox Silver Co Aesthetic Covered Sugar Tea CaddyVintage 12 Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Mint Leaf Iced Tea Sipper Straws SpoonsWilliam Comyns Crown Staffordshire Antique English Sterling Silver Tea ServiceSuperb Victorian 1899 Delightful Martin Hall Silver Coffee Pot 723g CheshamSet Of 6 Vintage Walker & Hall Sterling Silver Tea / Coffee Spoons C.1957Fantastic Antique English Sterling Silver Tea Set Massive 1044 Grams HallmarkedWallace Baroque Silver Plate Kettle, Urn, Server, Samovar Stand Alcohol Burner A Fine Quality Set Of Six Sterling Silver & Enamel Coffee Spoons Birmingham 1947Victorian C1870's Meriden Silver Plate Co Aesthetic Repousse Tea Pot Coffee PotVictorian Pairpoint Silver Plate Co Aesthetic 1880's Chased Tea Pot Coffee PotSouthern Pacific Railroad Vintage Silver Tea Kettle/potGeorgian Sterling Silver Coffee PotLot Of 10 Sterling Repousse Demitasse Coffee Spoons Pretty --78 Grams--Silver Tea Coffee Spoons & Tongs Mappin & Webb Rat Tailed Spoons Sheffield 1929Good Pair Antique Georgian Silver Tea/sugar Tongs, C1760, I.a, 36 GramsTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Tea Set, C. 1875-1891, Four PiecesStieff Williamsburg Queen Anne Pattern Sterling Silver Tea Spoons 5 3/4" Silver Plated Tea Set With Tea Pot, Coffee Milk & SugarQuality, Art Deco Silver Tea Set, 1913, 1232gmAntique 19thc Solid Silver Repousse Teapot, Madras C.1880G781: Japanese Tea Kettle For Green Tea Sencha Like A Silver With Sign€Antique 1927 Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Scroll Saga Iced Tea Spoon 7 1/4"