ARTIST / MAKER: Archibald Ure (assay master)
James Mitchelson (maker)
DATE: 1732 (made)
PLACE: Edinburgh (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Silver with ivory insulators

Tea came to Scotland at around the same time as England in the mid-17th century where, due to the high cost of tea leaves, tea drinking was initially only enjoyed by the very wealthy. This increasingly fashionable social custom created a demand for silver vessels made locally, which created a lucrative business for Edinburgh goldsmiths. Some of these goldsmiths, such as Colin McKenzie, Colin Campbell and the maker of this teapot, James Mitchelson, crafted many fine pieces for the tea table and produced some of the earliest teawares from this period. As silver was exceptionally valuable and its design was dictated by the fashions of the day, teawares made from silver indicated high social status. This silver teapot is a variation of the ‘bullet’ form, so called because of its spherical shape. Its tapered design is a distinctly Scottish feature. The bullet shape developed from earlier pear-shaped examples and became fashionable around 1720.