Silver kettles first appeared at the end of the 17th century and served to replenish empty teapots, which were small at this time. To keep the water hot, they were supplied with stands fitted with a spirit burner that warmed the underside of the kettle, allowing the silver to act as a heat conductor. The handles were usually made of wicker or wood, or with ivory disk inserts that provided insulation from the boiling water. Due to the weight of a full kettle, they were often positioned next to the tea table on a stand and used with the assistance of a servant. As such a large and impressive silver item, kettles became a focal point of the tea ceremony and an obvious expression of wealth.
This silver bullet-shaped kettle is engraved on the body with a crest and the motto ‘Viret in Aeternum’ (It Flourishes Forever). This was the motto of the 13th Hussars, previously the 13th Light Dragoons, a cavalry regiment of the British Army which was established in 1715. The 13th Hussars’ most famous battles included Waterloo in 1815 and the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854. Made in 1875, it seems likely that this kettle was owned by a later member of the regiment or an individual who wished to celebrate their military endeavours.
The firm of Charles Stuart Harris & Sons. is said to have been established by John Mark Harris, a spoon maker, in 1817. In around 1852, Charles Stuart Harris took over the firm and by the 1870s, when this kettle was made, the business had expanded into a major manufacturer of a range of silver and silver-plated wares.