Tea came to Scotland at around the same time as England, in the mid-17th century. Due to the high cost of tea leaves, tea drinking was at first only fashionable amongst the very wealthy, who created a demand for silver vessels made locally. As silver was exceptionally valuable and its design was dictated by contemporary fashions, silver teawares were an indication of wealth and social status. This is an example of a silver ‘bullet teapot’, which owes its name to its spherical body that supposedly resembles that of the round lead musket ball, its form developing from earlier pear-shaped examples. The spherical shape of this teapot and its tall raised foot are features that became synonymous with Scottish silver teapot design in the 18th century.
Relatively little is known about John Welsh, the silversmith of this teapot, although his mark is most often found on spoons. He entered his mark in 1742, working out of Edinburgh, with the Liberta Communion Cups being amongst his notable works.