Material and Medium: Sterling silver , wood and Bone
Dimensions: Overall: 155 x 264 x 113mm (6 1/8 x 10 3/8 x 4 7/16in.)
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: 1964.1117
This teapot was made by Thomas Wallis II & Jonathan Hayne and is hallmarked London 1809. It is made of sterling silver with a wooden handle and a bone finial on the lid and is engraved with grape, acorn and berry designs. Silver teapots were first made at the end of the 1600s and by 1809 would have been used in many upper-middle class households.
Tea was first imported into Britain in the second half of the seventeenth century. It became a very popular drink with upper class women and a whole etiquette around drinking and serving tea was invented. During the eighteenth century, demand for cheaper tea led to extensive smuggling, but gradually tea became more affordable.
By the time this teapot was made, tea had become a much more accessible drink. A shortage of grain meant that beer prices had risen and the 1784 reduction in tax on tea meant it came to replace beer as the drink of choice amongst the working classes, although they would have used teapots made of earthenware rather than silver.