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    

19th Century Meiji Era Japanese Sterling Silver Teapot W/plum Marked ǴEarly 19th Century Dutch Sterling .934 Tea Caddy With Key Jacobus Carrenhof 1805English Sterling Silver Tea Tray George Iii Style 152 OzAntique Ensko Sterling, 18thc Early American 6-piece Sterling Silver Tea SetEnglish Sterling Silver Teapot Whippet Crest 1837 Ball Black Sterling Teapot Tea Urn 1850 Tiffany PersianChinese Export Silver Tea Caddy Dragon Wang Hing French Sterling Silver Tea Set Emile Puiforcat Paris 53 OzAntique Art Deco Solid Silver Tea Pot 1930 Sheffield 400 Grams Harry AtkinSuperb Edwardian English Silver Tea Caddy C.1904Antique Large Rare Solid Silver Tea Strainer Circa 1900 LondonGorham Sterling Silver Japanese Tea Set 1882 53 OzWellby 1833 William Iv Silver Embossed Coffee Pot 932g Superb Antique Chinese Silver Tea Strainer - Wang Hing - Dragon & PearlChristopher Dresser Style Silver Plated TeapotArt Nouvea 5 Piece Canadian Sterling Silver Silver Tea Coffee Set By P.w Ellis Edwardian Chester 1908 Sterling / Solid Silver Tea Set 790.8 Grams Gorham Plymouth Sterling Silver Coffee & Tea Set, Pot (s) Sugar Creamer No ScrapExqisite Antique English Teapot Made Of Sterling Silver Fully Hallmarked C1901Krups Kt600e Silver Art Coffee Maker 79047 MoC1870's Victorian Meriden B Silver Plate Aesthetic Figural Tea Pot Coffee PotSet 6 Aynsley Coffee Cups Saucers Hm Silver Cherub Holders Charles S Green 1911Antique Large Solid Silver Tea Pot 1925 ChesterStunning Antique Chinese Silver Gilt & Enamel Tea CaddyRare C.1815 English Sterling Silver Tea Strainer Bowl Shell London No ReserveSuper George V 1918 Delightful Mappin & Webb Silver Teapot 597g AmershamMint Set 12 Antique Victorian Solid Silver Tea Spoons And Tongs; Sheffield 1886Antique Sterling Silver Beehive Figural Tea Infuser Ball Hallmarked Bee AnchorAntique Chinese Gilt Silver Tea Caddy Box Mesh Filigree Raised Enamel JeweledLadys Ww1 Military Medals , With Her Silver Tea Pot Of 574.9 Grams HallmarkedStriking Chinese Export C1900 Dragon & Jade Sterling / Solid Silver Tea StrainerAntique Georgian Silver Tea Caddy SpoonAntique Edwardian Solid Silver Tea Pot 1901 LondonPhilips Saeco R19737/20 Vienna Plus Silver Automatic Espresso Coffee MachineSolid Silver Islamic Dallah Arabia Arab Arabic Arabian Coffee Tea Pot TurkishBoxed Set Of Twelve Antique Silver Tea Spoons & Jam Spoon Sheffield 1939 Ref 400English Sterling Silver Teapot Wm. Sharp 1824 Lion Paws Sterling Silver Tea Ball Infuser Chinese Lantern Leaf Drip Tray Webster Co.6 Antique Sterling Silver Art Nouveau Tea Spoons From Sheffield Dated 1907English Sterling Tea Set Wandesford Family 1828 CrestEnglish Silver Tea Caddy Key Robt Sharp 1790 18ozBeautiful Antique Georgian B1809 Solid Sterling Silver Tea Caddy Shovel Spoon4 Webster Sterling Silver Iced Tea Mint Julip Stir Spoons/straws W/heart Bowls10 Stieff Repousse Sterling Silver 5" 5 O'clock Coffee SpoonsArt Deco Sterling Silver Tea Strainer & Stand Classic Form Barker Brothers 1938Hall China Moderne Teapot Silver And Gold All Over Decoration Art DecoVictorian Plated Silver Lithophane Teapot Warmer Heater LampAntique Iraqi Fine Silver & Niello Teapot C.1900 & Nr!1920's Art Deco Tw&s The "cube" Silver Plated Teapot / TeasetArt Deco 1947 Birmingham Sterling Silver Set 6 Coffee Spoons Teaspoons Boxed1904 Hm Silver & Faux Tortoiseshell Tea CaddyVictorian Silver Plated Spirit Kettle/stand - A/fTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Tea Set, C. 1875-1891Solid Sterling Silver Antique 3 Piece Tea SetSolid Silver Islamic Dallah Arabia Arab Arabic Arabian Coffee Tea Pot TurkishIrish Silver Tea Tongs - Dublin C1760 - Fine Collectors ItemSet Of 6 Antique Silver Coffee Spoon Spoons In Original BoxBeautiful, Unusual Frank W. Smith Sterling Silver Tea Caddy Spoon, C. 1880's, 4"Solid Silver Islamic Dallah Arabia Arab Arabic Arabian Coffee Tea Pot TurkishGerman Coin Silver Coffee Set Teapot Mask Signed