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. Up until the 1730s, they were usually plain and of simple form, but the influence of Rococo taste transformed them into a vehicle for extravagant ornament.
This kettle was made by Thomas Whipham, a London silversmith who first entered his mark as a largeworker (a maker of large silver items) in 1737. The inverted pear shape is a typical form for kettles produced during the middle of the 18th century and the floral ornament on the stand and body demonstrates the influence of the rococo style upon English silversmithing at this time.