Kettles and pots were amongst the first things we as humans created to help us cook and prepare food. For thousands of years we’ve relied on similar kettle/pot designs, but as we’ve discovered new materials and metals, we’ve also started making them using bronze, iron, clay, etc.
Nowadays, kettles and pots are more sophisticated and elegant, to find the modern-day lifestyle and kitchen needs. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore that the craftsmanship going into the creation of the pots and kettles has never been poorer. As a result, people are turning to the old-school types of kettles, made from cast iron, which is completely understandable. We all want to invest our hard-earned money into something that will last a lifetime.
So, if you’re looking to invest and purchase a cast iron kettle, you’re at the right place. In the following paragraphs we’ll talk about the history of kettles, factors that determine their quality and value, and of course, go over some places where you can purchase a good-quality cast iron kettle. So, let’s dive right in!
Antique Cast Iron Kettles 101
Despite not having a 100% sure answer to the first use and exact origin of kettles, historians and archeologists argue that the very first kettles were used in Europe and Asia. The agreement has been reached that the first kettle was created in London, England, but the historical importance of kettles in Asia, specifically China, cannot be ignored. For thousands of years, Chinese people made incredible kettles and used them for tea ceremonies.
It is believed, however, that the inspiration for the first kettle came from the very Chinese and Japanese people. Dating back to the 17th century, Europeans started importing Chinese wine pourers, that had a specific design similar to what we nowadays refer to as a kettle or teapot design. The kettles had to be sturdy enough to withstand open fire and boiling water, so they were made from cast iron.
Across the globe, however, kettles were created pretty similarly but from different materials. Kettles in the Ottoman Empire, for example, were traditionally made from bronze, aluminum, or stainless steel. In India, people made kettles using copper, steel, and even glass for their kettles and teapots.
In the 20th century is when the kettle game turned for a big turn. Manufacturers started using materials like aluminum and enamel metals to make kettles. Furthermore, the discovery of electric kettles completely overtook the traditional, open-flame kettles and ensured every single household has one, even to this day. Electric kettles were first produced in the 1920s but became extremely popular in the 1950s with the Russel Hobbs K1 electric kettle.
Identifying Antique Kettles
Nowadays, it can be pretty difficult to identify true antique kettles. With so many products and options available, genuine antique kettles have become extremely hard to find. To avoid getting your kettle information mixed, and to avoid buying imitations, here are some things you need to pay attention to when purchasing antique kettles;
- The Magnet Trick – take a magnet and put it against the kettle; if the magnet sticks, you’re in the presence of a fake antique kettle.
- Weight – antique kettles are pretty hefty, even when they’re small. That’s because they’re made of hard and heavy materials, especially cast iron ones. If you struggle to lift the kettle (and if you weigh it and it weighs more than 2 kilograms), the kettle is probably the real deal and you should buy it.
- Play with chemistry – you can test the chemical composition of a copper kettle by using a PH paper and conducting an acid test. Ntique copper kettles have a pH level of ten and more. Also, if you boil magnesium chloride in the kettle, together with some water, and the water turns green right after boiling, then the kettle is antique and probably a century old.
- Check for symbols and inscriptions – antique kettles usually have a manufacturer’s symbol at the bottom. Trademarks and symbols helped differentiate between different kettles or showcased that they’re made in a certain year. Some antique kettles have their dates of production as well. Now, this may not be always visible, or if they’re more than 100 years old, the kettle might not have inscriptions at all.
- Check for unique features – some antique kettles have pretty unique shapes, worn-out lids, and general appearance, as well as uneven holes or uneven design overall. Antique kettles produced by the legendary gate company also have a distinct circled start on the tops of the kettle lid, which also shows authenticity.
Factors That Determine or Affect Kettle Value
A plethora of factors determines or affect the value of an antique kettle. However, if you’re not a pro when it comes to antiques, it may be a bit difficult to tell right away whether a kettle is antique or not, or whether it is worth the money. Here are some of the factors you need to be aware of in order to spend your money in the right place, for the right piece;
- Condition – of course, the condition of the piece determines its value; this isn’t something groundbreaking. The better the condition of a kettle, the higher the price. Authentic kettles that are in a good shape are extremely valuable. Antique kettle collectors and experts usually determine the condition by the amount of damage, missing pieces (like lids, for example), scuffing and scratching on and inside the kettle, etc.
- Originality – antique kettles, as mentioned previously, can have symbols and inscriptions on their bottoms, or even sides, to indicate the date of production, the manufacturer, or the origin of the kettle. Kettles older than 100 years might not have any of these and need special evaluation to determine the exact production date and origin. These evaluations are usually done by antique kettle collectors and experts, but you can also utilize online services and tools for expert appraisals.
- Brand and manufacturer – antique kettles made by certain brands and manufacturers are valued more, which increases their cost. Kettles made by, for example, the Gate Company/Gate Brand, or by the Joseph Heinrich Brand are considered to be the most valued and most expensive among antique kettles. Those that are done by lesser-known brands and manufacturers are often priced lower.
- General demand – the higher demand for a product, the more expensive the product is; that is how the marketplace works. The same applies to the antique kettle marketplace. If a kettle is rare, in pristine condition, and on top of it, also in high demand, you can expect to pay up to several thousand dollars. After all, antique kettles are historical pieces, so the price is usually justifiable, apart from the marketplace and demand argument.
- Size and design – kettles with unique designs and larger sizes are often valued and priced higher, especially when it comes to cast iron kettles. They often weigh more, compared to even small cast iron kettles, which also increases their value.
All of the aforementioned factors are generalized and in line with the current antique kettle marketplace. However, these values and factors change depending on your local market conditions and demand for such kettles. To get the best value and price for an antique kettle, regardless of whether you’re selling or buying, it is essential to consult with experts and do expert appraisals, so you can get the best deals.
Where to Buy Antique Kettles?
Buying antique kettles isn’t easy, but it has never been more available for global customers than now. With online shops and auctions, you can get your hands on an antique kettle in no time. Here are the best places to look for genuine antique kettles (and get them for good prices as well);
- Online auction websites – places like eBay and LiveAuctioneers have antique kettle actions available for buyers around the globe. They sell antique kettles on their platforms, which are usually of high-quality and genuine origin. Make sure to search these websites by using keywords like ‘antique kettle’, ‘antique cast iron kettle’, etc.
- Online antique marketplaces – websites like Etsy, Gumtree, 1stDibs, Ruby Lane, and Chairish all sell antique cast iron kettles. You can find anything, from cheap imitations to expensive genuine antique cast iron kettles. You can even argue the price with the sellers via messages.
- Antique appraiser websites – websites like ValueMyStuff, WorthPoint, and Kovels offer online expert appraisal services of all things antique, including antique cast iron kettles. You can also access their online database of antique pieces and items, including processes, evaluations, and other important information that might explain the price of the items.
- Print resources – for those who don’t want to buy their antiques using online auctions, you may want to check out some of the print resources (magazines, and books), that feature auction information. Some of them include ‘Warman’s Antiques and Collectibles‘, as well as ‘Antique Trader Cast Iron Price Guide’. Here, you can get incredibly detailed information about everything regarding antique cast iron kettles, or other antique items.
Antique Cast Iron Kettle Value: How Much Does it Worth?
Generally speaking, cast iron-anything is always pretty pricey. However, in the case of antique cast iron kettles, you can expect the prices to go up to 4 digits (if the kettle’s in a pristine shape).
For example, the super rare and unique ones, like the handmade Tetsubin Japanese cast iron kettle, can cost up to 1000 USD. Some antique cats iron kettles even cost up to several thousands of dollars, like the antique Tibetan cast iron and silver kettles. We’ve found this exact kettle on Etsy, and there it is appraised to be around 625 USD. Now, keep in mind that these super pricey antique kettles are generally handmade, oftentimes using traditional casting methods, which further increases their value and price.
Kettles that feature engraved symbols and patterns are also highly valued because they inform us about their origin or even the year they were made. They also indicate their country of origin, which in some cases can further increase their cost. Japanese cast iron kettles, therefore, can cost thousands of dollars.
If the four-digit prices aren’t really your cup of tea (pun intended), then you can go for cheaper cast iron kettles, but those aren’t probably antique kettles. Cast iron kettles are still being made and sold on online marketplaces, but if the price is on the lower end of the scale, chances are the item isn’t antique. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean the item is of poor quality; quite the contrary. There are incredibly good quality cast iron kettles available for purchase on eBay, Amazon, or Etsy, that will last you for a lifetime.
A middle-ground for an antique cast iron kettle price would be around 500 USD (with actual proof that the kettle is antique). For cheap antique kettle irons, you might be able to find them for up to 100 USD, but they aren’t probably in a good shape. Often the kettles miss lids, and necks, or are super damaged and pretty much impossible to use for water boiling.
And, that’s it. Hopefully, we’ve provided you with all the information necessary and important for purchasing antique cast iron kettles. Make sure to do your research and check out the aforementioned online marketplaces or published print resources to learn about the marketplace as much as possible. The more you know, the smaller the chance that you’ll buy an imitation or a ‘fake’ cast iron kettle. Also, make sure to research multiple sources, consult experts, compare opinions, and even seek expert appraisals before making a final decision. We wish you all the luck and may you enjoy your kettle for years to come!