A Copper Kettle

This is being written as I drink a mug of coffee, with water boiled in a very cheap, largely plastic kettle which, of course, plugs straight into the electricity supply and boils water very rapidly.

Now go back 100 years, to a time before mains electricity arrived in the Lavingtons and there was no cheap plastic. Your kettle had to be made to withstand the heat of a fire. Essentially, it had to be metal.

Most metals were not all that easy to beat or bend into shape and then make joints which had to be waterproof and heatproof. The ideal metal was copper.

Our curator tells us that in the 1970s he and his wife tried to make a copper kettle. They attempted to beat a sheet of copper into a hemisphere to make the top of the device. He believes they still have the resultant attractive copper dish somewhere. In those harum-scarum 1970s days they never found the time to complete the project and, in any case, they had an electric kettle to use.

Back in the 1900s, the options were more limited and a Market Lavington copper smith completed a kettle of simple, attractive appearance.

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Copper kettle at Market Lavington Museum

This kettle has been made in several pieces. It has a sturdy base. The side is made of a single sheet of copper bent round.

The top is another single sheet, beaten into shape. There is a handle (made of steel with a wood grip) and a spout. It should have a wood knob on the lid but that is missing.

The kettle was clearly designed to stand on a kitchen range, which is just what it does at Market Lavington Museum.

The method of jointing is interesting. We guess it was a brazing method, but we can see how surfaces were overlapped to ensure good contact and closure.

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The seam joining the ends of the kettle wall together

That’s the seam in the kettle side wall. Clearly it has been riveted as well, probably before brazing took place.

The kettle was given to the museum by a White Street (Market Lavington) resident.

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