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Archive for Sunday, January 12, 2003

Coffeepots known for classic shapes

January 12, 2003

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The idea of a shop that serves coffee while you meet with friends is not new.

Coffeehouses and coffee have been important parts of social life in England for more than 200 years. The drink, along with chocolate and tea, was introduced to England in the 17th century. It soon became a hallmark of social gatherings in well-to-do homes. A hostess would wear the latest-style dress and serve the coffee from the newest-style pot.

At first, the silver coffeepot was rather plain, with straight sides and a domed lid. By the 1720s, the coffeepot was pear-shaped, with a handle usually made of wood. Soon the melon-shaped pot came into fashion. By the 1800s, the pot was decorated with engraving or applied leaves or figures, the spout and handle were curved, and the body of the pot was on a small pedestal foot.

A very classical shape soon developed, and a straight-sided pot was once more in style. The 19th century was a time of fantasy for coffeepots. They were larger, and the handles were often made of embossed silver with small ivory or ebony inserts that kept the handle cool. A curved spout, figural knob on the lid and unusual feet were popular. The pot itself was often fluted.

Coffeepots from every period were much taller than their matching teapots. Today, coffeepots are made in all of the earlier shapes and styles as well as in many new, modern shapes created in the 20th century.

My great-grandfather was a captain in the Union Army during the Civil War. I have a 4-by-3-inch cast-iron paperweight that belonged to him. It is made in the shape of a full-brimmed military campaign hat with a molded rope band. On the front of the hatcrown are the letters GAR. I would like to know the value and history of this family heirloom.

THIS ENGLISH VICTORIAN coffeepot was made in London. It is 9 1/4
inches high. The pot sold at Skinner's Auction Gallery in Boston a
few years ago for more than $700.

THIS ENGLISH VICTORIAN coffeepot was made in London. It is 9 1/4 inches high. The pot sold at Skinner's Auction Gallery in Boston a few years ago for more than $700.

You have a souvenir honoring the Grand Army of the Republic. The GAR was an organization for Union Army veterans that was founded in 1866. The group reached its largest membership -- close to 500,000 -- in the 1890s. It is likely that your paperweight dates from that period because that's when figural advertising paperweights became popular. Several examples of brass or iron hat-shaped advertising paperweights are known. A cast-iron paperweight like yours was made in the 1890s to advertise Endless Caverns, a tourist site in Virginia. Your paperweight would sell for about $75.

Tip

To brighten a faded Oriental rug, sprinkle the rug with salt water, then brush or sweep hard.

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