Tea kettle on stand, part of a five-piece tea and coffee service

1929
Designed by George Christian Gebelein (American, born in Germany, 1878–1945), Gebelein Silversmiths (1908 to about 1960)


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Dimensions

Other (Tea kettle and stand): 31.9 x 16.3 x 22.5 cm, 1.63 kg (12 9/16 x 6 7/16 x 8 7/8 in., 3.59 lb.) Overall (Tea Kettle): 14.5 x 24.5 x 15.6 cm, 0.76 kg (5 11/16 x 9 5/8 x 6 1/8 in., 1.68 lb.) Other (Stand): 13.9 x 16.6 x 14.2 cm, 0.6 kg (5 1/2 x 6 9/16 x 5 9/16 in., 1.3 lb.) Other (Burner): 4 x 6.5 cm, 0.1 kg (1 9/16 x 2 9/16 in., 0.3 lb.)

Accession Number

1986.778a-c

Medium or Technique

Silver, ebonized wood

Out on Loan

On display at Cooper Hewitt, NY, April 7, 2017 – August 20, 2017

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

The teapot is raised into a fluted, urn-shaped form having an elliptical base. The vessel is soldered to a short stem with a splayed, round foot secured to a square plinth. The tea kettle has a sharply defined, concave shoulder that rises to an applied collar intended to receive a tall lid. A small, five-part hinge and flange secures the lid, whose shape echoes the concave shoulder and rises to a bell-shaped device, topped with a flame finial.

The wider, fluted body of the tea kettle is soldered to a simple foot ring. A pair of projecting, circular knobs are soldered to each side of the vessel for placement on the stand. Its broadly u-shaped, ebonized handle is aligned with the spout. The handle is pinned to sockets with knuckle joints that project upward from the shoulder of the kettle. The stand has a similar square plinth and concave shoulder; a circular gap at its center holds a small spirit lamp with a hinged cap and wooden handle tip. A pair of triangular frames rise upward from the plinth and lead to a shield-shaped device that is designed to receive the kettle.

The teakettle has a seamed spout that swells to an elliptical form at the point of contact with the vessel; strainer holes mirror this shape from within.

Bright-cut engraving throughout in the colonial revival style consists of swagged decoration, with foliate corners on plinth and top of lids; roulette engraved wrigglework found along edges.


This tea and coffee service demonstrates Gebelein’s indebtedness to colonial silversmith Paul Revere, from whom he traced his apprenticeship lineage through the firm Goodnow and Jenks (1893–1905). It is thought that Gebelein borrowed closely from a covered sugar bowl by Revere, now in the Museum’s collection, that has the same shape, ornamentation, and pinecone finial and was displayed in the 1906 exhibition
of American silver at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gebelein made all the pieces in his set to match; Revere, however, would have combined more than one style body. For example, a typical Revere tea service might have a pinecone finial on the teapot and a flame finial on the lidded sugar bowl. Gebelein’s teapot displays the same round foot on a square plinth as the other forms in the set; by contrast, Revere’s teapots typically rested on a stand.
Commissioned by a Boston patron as a wedding present in 1929, this service includes an unusual colonial form, the teakettle on stand, which late-nineteenth-century silversmiths reintroduced. Gebelein jobbed out parts of this order, most likely to ensure his profit margin. The bodies of the separate pieces are believed to have been created in the Gebelein shop; P. Charles Machon at Goodnow and Jenks supplied the cast handles, and Harold Small executed the engraving. Despite Gebelein’s cultivated reputation as a colonial-style silversmith who fashioned every piece from start to finish, the shop took advantage of methods that increased efficiency without sacrificing quality. These included spinning forms that were later hammered to suggest a completely handwrought vessel. It is known that Revere also jobbed out parts of his commissions and made use of new technological advances, such as prefabricated sheet silver, to enhance production and curtail costs.

This text has been adapted from “Silver of the Americas, 1600-2000,” edited by Jeannine Falino and Gerald W.R. Ward, published in 2008 by the MFA. Complete references can be found in that publication.

Inscription

"N.T." in clear roman letters within an ellipse is engraved on the side of the kettle. The script text "November 22, 1929" appears on base of kettle and stand, but not burner.

Markings

“GEBELEIN” in shaped rectangle, “STERLING” in sans-serif letters, “Boston” in italics, all struck incuse on base of tea kettle and stand. “STERLING” in incuse sans-serif letters struck on spirit lamp.

Provenance

Given anonymously by the original owner.

Credit Line

Anonymous gift