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 Victorian kettle is decorated with a bright-cut engraved design of floral festoons, or garlands. This method of engraving was most frequently used by English silversmiths and became fashionable in the late 18th century. A series of cuts of varying steepness are made into the metal that causes the exposed surfaces to reflect light and give an impression of brightness. This kettle was made by London silversmith Richard Sibley but retailed by F. B. Thomas & Co. with whom Sibley had close links during this period.