Lovingly polished to a lustrous shine, antique silver teapots are a living record of the skill and devotion with which craftsmen decades ago designed and made functional objects for serving tea. A collection of silver teapots imbues a home with timeless grace and lends a sense of tradition to contemporary interiors. Join the thrill of the hunt, and begin (or add to) your collection.
Antique silver teapots are not only beautiful to look at, but they are still very usable and have a fascinating history. Tea was brought to Europe by Dutch and Portuguese traders in the 17th century, a beverage only the very well‐todo could afford.
Some scholars believe the design source for early teapots came from Islamic coffee pots used in the popular coffee houses in Europe, as for quite a few years teapots were in that same tall shape. Others believe teapot design was influenced by Chinese wine vessels, round in shape, which were shipped along with the teas from China.
Pots were initially made of clay or porcelain. It wasn’t until the reign of George II in the mid‐ 1700s that silver teapots began to appear. Silver was durable, retained heat and could be embellished with engraved designs, embossed floral patterns and exquisite monograms, making each one a small work of original art. A silver teapot was among the most cherished possession of its owner; it sparkled in the light when used and was a symbol of the owner’s prosperity and social standing. The pots were also a form of cash reserve: the silver could be melted down and used as currency should the need arise.
Designs changed from simple round shapes to straight‐sided shapes, which were then replaced by oval shaped teapots in the late 1700s.
In the 19th century, Queen Victoria popularized taking afternoon tea for every class. Industrialization allowed less expensive, silver‐plated teapots to be produced for the middle class, so they could serve afternoon tea in as gracious a manner as they could afford.
Every major trend in style was reflected in the silver teapots produced during the 1800s and early 1900s including Renaissance, Gothic, Chinese, Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau with its fluid floral motifs and Art Deco. Whether you collect one style or all of them, a beautiful pot added to your collection will never lose its luster!
A collection of antique silver teapots keeps its value, will bring you great joy and is something you can pass down to your children and grandchildren. As a bonus, your collection will bring inherent beauty to life’s most meaningful occasions.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
CONDITION: Depending on your budget, look for the best sterling or silver-plated pots. Buy pots with glowing patina, a beautiful shape, and pieces that are largely undamaged. Some wear is to be expected on plated pieces that have aged.
IDENTIFICATION: Most antique pots will have a hallmark, or be marked sterling or quadruple plate.
BUY WHAT YOU LOVE: Monograms, floral designs and elegant shapes all make a pot desirable. But it is the “love at first sight” phenomenon that should help you decide to add a piece to your collection.
Lidy Baars not only writes about antiques, but she collects and sells them as well. Visit her blog FrenchGardenHouse.com to see what’s new!