In last week’s coffee pot post, I mentioned the differences between pots for tea, coffee and chocolate. A reader requested further information on chocolate pots, so today we have a chocolate pot for him, plus a teapot for one of my coworkers – thus completing a Breakfast Beverage Trifecta. (We’ll leave orange juice, ale and other morning drinks out of the picture for now.)

Seven inches tall.

First, my favorite teapot, which features the owner’s monogram (for you, Liz!). This brown-glazed pot was given as a wedding present to Julia Prout Vinson, who married George Minor Anderson on November 19th, 1901. Both bride and groom were from prominent Rockville families; their Anderson descendants donated the teapot to the Society. The relatively plain pot (maker unknown) is made elegant by the addition of silver chains and bands, which attach an elaborate silver “JPV,” the bride’s initials*, to the body. Inside, a white ceramic tea infuser fastens to the underside of the lid, avoiding the need for extra strainers or the like.

Ten inches tall.

Next, a chocolate pot, circa 1890-95. Donated by Jean Krumm, its original history is unknown, but it is somewhat local; the bottom is stamped “Haviland & Co., Limoges, for Charles R. Edmonston, Washington D.C.” Mr. Edmonston can be found in the 1900 D.C. directory, listed as a merchant of china, glassware and crockery at 1205 Pennsylvania Avenue. Limoges helped popularize this vessel form in the late 19th century. Chocolate pots are tall, to accommodate a stirring stick, and are often part of their own porcelain set complete with matching cups and saucers. Using designated pots for each beverage keeps flavors and odors from mixing (and prevents the hostess from pouring the wrong drink).

There are no hard and fast rules; there are tall teapots, and short chocolate pots. But generally speaking, teapots are short and squat; coffeepots are tall with long spouts; chocolate pots are tall with shorter, pitcher-like spouts. (There are differences between the kinds of cups for each beverage, too.) For a nice tea/coffee comparison, here’s a complete tea set from the 1896 Marshall Field & Co. catalog; note that the teapot (left) is a smidgen shorter than the coffee pot, though otherwise they’re almost exactly the same (to make a matched set).

In other cases, particularly earlier in the 19th century, coffee and chocolate pots are more similar to each other than to teapots; here’s an article from Colonial Williamsburg talking about some 18th century examples. Alas, we don’t have anything that early in our collections here.

* When I first came to work here, the fact that all of Julia Anderson’s wedding gifts featured her maiden name threw me for a loop. Fortunately I was set straight by our volunteers, who kindly did not express too much dismay at my etiquette ignorance. As The Social Mirror, an 1888 advice book, informs us, “Presents sent to the bride, if marked, bear her maiden name or initials.”

Advertisements