DATE: 1700 (made)
PLACE: Netherlands (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Silver parcel-gilt with metal chains and bast fibre handle

Tea first arrived in Amsterdam in 1610 where its high cost meant that it was only consumed by the very wealthy. Early silver teapots made by Dutch silversmiths copied the shapes of Chinese porcelain examples in order to emulate the wares that were required to make and serve this new beverage, as porcelain could not be created in Europe at this time. This teapot is a Dutch interpretation of a Chinese prototype. Typically, pear-shaped teapots such as this feature a spout emerging from the widest diameter of the pot and often had chains attached. These chains imitated the metal mounts that were often added to Chinese porcelain when it reached Europe, which added value to these rare, exotic pieces. Silver was not as practical as porcelain as it conducts heat and silversmiths therefore had to accommodate for this by adding other materials such as bast-fibre, wood and ivory to the handles to prevent them from being too hot to touch.