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  • Place of origin:

    Sheffield (made)

  • Date:

    1879 (designed)
    ca. 1879 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904 (designer)
    James Dixon and Sons (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Electroplated nickel silver, ebonised wooden handle

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Andrew McIntosh Patrick

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case 1, shelf 3

Object Type
Because tea is made by infusing dried tea leaves in boiling water, the handle of the teapot is often made of wood or some other organic material to prevent it from becoming too hot.

Design & Designing
Christopher Dresser designed utilitarian objects for the general public, making full use of the latest techniques of mass production, and he is therefore often regarded as the 'father of industrial design'. His most innovative designs were for objects to be made in metal. Unlike his designs for ceramics and glass, which often resemble plant forms in their shape, ornamentation or colouring, his designs for metalwork objects tend to be fully abstracted from their organic source. He frequently employed symmetrical, rectilinear shapes and undecorated surfaces. This design appears in the costing book of James Dixon & Sons for 1879 as design no. 2277 and is described as 'English Japanese', pointing to the Japanese influence in some of Dresser's most radical metalwork designs.

Dresser was a prolific worker and produced designs for numerous manufacturers, including Hukin & Heath (about 1878-1890s), Elkingtons (about 1875-1888) and James Dixon & Sons (about 1879-1890s). Some of his designs were considered too ahead of their time to go into production, and six exist only as prototypes.

Physical description

Teapot of electroplated nickel silver with an ebonised, wooden handle.

The body, a hemisphere with a flat circular base supported on six, squat peg feet equidistantly spaced. The spout, a tapered cone rising at an angle from the lower front of the body. The lid, slightly domed, following the curvature of the body is hinged at the rear and surmounted by a globular knop. The handle, an ebomised wooden rod is set at an angle to the body; at each end encircled by a metal collar, the upper is attached to a tubular hoop, set at a 45 degree angle to the body and is attached to either side of it by a spreading foot, the lower support for the handle is a straight, tubular rod.

Place of Origin

Sheffield (made)


1879 (designed)
ca. 1879 (made)


Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904 (designer)
James Dixon and Sons (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Electroplated nickel silver, ebonised wooden handle

Marks and inscriptions

Stamped with a facsmile signature, "Ch. Dresser", marked EP and J.D. & S. for James Dixon and Sons and the number 2277


Height: 13 cm, Length: 22.8 cm, Width: 13 cm

Object history note

Silver City Exhibition RF.2006/131

Historical context note

Andrew McIntosh Patrick was the Managing Director of the Fine Art Society, 148 New Bond Street, London W1Y 0JT for 30 years until 2005. Between 1972 and 2005, he acquired a collection of metalwork designed by Dr. Christopher Dresser of approximately 50 pieces which until the sale of his collection by the Edinburgh auctioneers, Lyon & Turnbull on April 19, 2005, was the most distinguished collection of such material in either a public or private collection.

Descriptive line

Electroplate with ebony handle, made by James Dixon and Sons, ca.1879, designed by Christopher Dresser, 1879. Marks: facsimile signature "Ch. Dresser", J.D. & S. and 2277.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Halén, Widar Christopher Dresser, London, Phaidon - Christie's, 1990, p.182. ill. ISBN 0714880582
Whiteway, Michael and Morello, Augusto eds.Christopher Dresser 1834-1904, Milan, Skira, 2001 p.102. ill. ISBN 8884911028
Whiteway, Michael ed. The Shock of the Old, Christopher Dresser's Design Revolution, New York, Smithsonian, Cooper-Hewitt in association with V&A Publications, 2004, p.158. ill. ISBN 0810966603
Whiteway, Michael, ed. Christopher Dresser, A Design Revolution, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2004, p.158. ill. ISBN 18517744289


Nickel silver; Silver; Ebony




Metalwork; Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares; Scotland


Metalwork Collection

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