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 was made by the London silversmith, William Grundy who was apprenticed in 1731 and probably died before 1780. Until the 1730s, kettles were usually plain and of simple form, but the influence of Rococo taste transformed them into a vehicle for extravagant ornament. This example has a theatrically shaped handle and is eleborately decorated with delicate chasing and repoussé scrolls and blossoms. Another similar rococco kettle by Grundy is in the collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum.