ASCAS Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver
Members' Window # 102
by Giovanni Ciceri
(click on images to enlarge)


From the second quarter of 1900 while in Scandinavia was becoming popular the simple, attractive and functional style introduced by Georg Jensen, in other parts of Europe, including the United Kingdom, the few silversmiths who left the conservatism of their productions, were more aimed at pure lines and geometric forms, not always of functional use, dictated by the Modernism continuing in a non-positive way the path opened by Christopher Dresser.

A pleasant exception in U.K. is represented by the production of Liberty and Co. and the beautiful designs of C. R. Ashbee in "Arts & Crafts" style.

Large manufacturers such as Mappin & Webb, Walker & Hall, Elkington, William Hutton & Sons, Arthur Price & Co were instead mostly concerned to the merely commercial production of silverware and only occasionally engaged talented designers as was Keith Murray by Mappin & Webb.

Kettles have been introduced in Queen Anne period (beginning of 1700) and their evolution in style has closely followed that of contemporary teapots, at least in the XVIII century. Contrary to Samovar, introduced in George III period (in the third quarter of 1700) and used exclusively as storage tanks for water for making tea (especially for social events), kettles were used mainly by private people and were intended for the preparation of tea, rather than as hot water only. For this reason the spout for pouring tea is internally protected by a perforated grid that can hold the tea leaves after infusion.
Silver tea kettle manufactured by Liberty & Co,  hallmarked in Birmingham in 1924
This tea kettle was manufactured by Liberty & Co and hallmarked in Birmingham in 1924.

Liberty & Co. is the company founded by Arthur Lasenby Liberty (see ENDNOTE), which produced artifacts in a unique and original style, opposed to the prevailing Aesthetic Movement and Art Nouveau design.

The maker mark of Liberty & Company (L & Co in a three lozenges punch) is struck on each piece, including the removable cover, as well as the lion passant (for sterling silver), the anchor (for the Birmingham Assay office) and the date letter "z" in a lowercase (for 1924).
The burner is not marked and it is therefore likely to have been made of silver plated metal.
Special characteristics of the production of Liberty & Company are the taper shape tending to cylindrical of the pot and the burner, the decoration of the corner of the stand and the surface worked by hammer, already found in "Arts & Crafts" artifacts, but played by Liberty & Co. in a more nuanced and less provocative way, that was not obtained by working directly on the piece, but usually obtained by working by hammer the molds.

The condition of this kettle is excellent, with only the lack of one wheel of wood of the burner which function was to facilitate the extraction of the wick.
Kettle: 23,5 cm wide; 13,7 cm max cross section; 19 cm tall
Stand: 15 cm wide; 9,5 cm tall
Burner: 7 cm wide; 7 cm tall
total height: 28 cm

Kettle: 764 grams; Stand 565 grams Burner: 112 grams - combined weight: 1441 g

More in "Arthur Lasenby Liberty and the Evolution of the Liberty Style" at

Giovanni Ciceri -
- 2012 -