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 large and impressive silver items, kettles became a focal point of the tea ceremony and an obvious expression of wealth.
This kettle is decorated in the rococo style which experienced a revival during the early 19th century. The bulbous body and the base of the spout are elaborately decorated with a scrolling design while the tip of the spout is modelled as the head of a bird. It’s maker, Samuel Whitford, was a London silversmith who specialised in the production of domestic silver.