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.
Elaborate tea wares such as this kettle were often awarded as prizes or used as presentation pieces due to their ornate craftsmanship and the respectable reputation of tea. This ornate spherical spirit kettle is decorated with stylised acanthus, foliate and flower head motifs with scroll-formed cartouches. One of the cartouches encloses a coat of arms for Campbell of Blythswood, Renfrewshire and the opposing cartouche is inscribed ‘won by Brindled Lady Douglas Clydesdale, December 28th 1843’.