DATE: 1890-1900 (made)
PLACE: France (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Silver, carved ivory handle

Like the Dutch, who first introduced tea to France in the 1640s, the French initially regarded tea as an exotic beverage to be enjoyed for its medicinal properties. Interest in drinking tea, coffee and chocolate as a mark of respectability and refinement was aroused under the reign of King Louis XIV (1638 – 1715) at the royal court at Versailles. Although coffee and chocolate were to become more popular across all levels of French society in the late 18th and 19th centuries, tea-drinking was nevertheless appreciated among members of the aristocratic and upper classes, creating a demand for appropriately refined teawares.
Although the maker’s mark is unidentified, this teapot bears the mark of Mellerio, an Italian silver and jewellery retailer, operating from 2 Boulevard Raspail in Paris.