Large Silver Colonial Tea Pot by Twentyman & Co.
length: 30cm, height: 18cm, weight: 1,269g
This unusually large and spectacular colonial Indian teapot is of hammered and cast solid silver. It is of flattened, fluted melon form. It has a leaf-capped twisting and gadrooned spout modelled to resemble the twisting stem of a melon or pumpkin. The rim is elaborately cast with a rococo-inspired leafy border. The domed, hinged lid is gadrooned and fitted with a leafy finial mount and a finial cast as a floral bunch. The ‘S’-shaped handle carried on the rococo-inspired theme and is fitted with two bone insulators. The four feet emerge from a leafy border and again are in rococo form.
The interior is plain and clean (it is immediately ready for use). The interior is fitted with an internal strainer that leads to the spout.
The base is marked with a maker’s mark of T&Co in Gothic lettering for Twentyman & Company, a lion passant mark and a tally mark of three punch marks in a row. According to Wilkinson (1999), the firm is first mentioned in 1821 and last mentioned in 1854. It was founded by William Twentyman in Calcutta. (Twentyman died in 1842.) Tally marks often are found on colonial Calcutta silver and seem to have been used to identify the native silversmith who was responsible for producing the piece so that he would be appropriately paid for his work.
Pieces such as this teapot were not produced for export from India but rather were made by a European-owned firms employing local Indian craftsmen to produce items for the local expatriate market.
The teapot is in near-perfect condition. It sits evenly and the lid closely well and tightly. The teapot is of thick-guage solid silver and is heavy-in-the-hand. It is unusually large and the floral and leafy finial is of particularly fine workmanship.
Indian Silver 1858-1947, 1999.
private collection, UK
Inventory no.: 1980