Chocolate first appeared in Britain during the 1650s. Being marketed as an expensive, luxury product this triggered silversmiths to design and produce a series of utensils to both aid the drinking of chocolate and emphasize the consumers status. The main object used was the chocolate pot. The majority of chocolate pots were produced around the late 17th century to the early 18th century. As opposed to coffee pots with only one lid, chocolate pots are distinguished by the inclusion of a secondary lid attached to the main lid.
The function of the extra lid is for the insertion of a molinet (moliniere/molinillo) or swizzle stick. These stirring sticks were implemented to prevent the chocolate from separating before being poured. To prevent it from being lost, a detachable pin attached to the bottom of the lower lid linked with a chain to the upper body of the pot is often present. Generally, another feature of the chocolate pot is a side handle. However, assuming that a silver pot with a side handle must be for chocolate is a popular misconception as many coffee pots also included a side handle.
Conversion into coffee pots
Few chocolate pots were produced after the 1720's and by the 1750's many were converted into coffee pots by having the two original lids amalgamated. Evidence of this is usually found by inspecting the inside of the lid where soldering marks can be found.Due to the fairly limited time of production with the majority being over two hundred years old, combined with the fact that many were converted into coffee pots, chocolate pots in good condition are often highly sought after driving values well into the thousands.
There are a wide range of silversmiths who produced chocolate pots. Here is a list of some of the most sought after makers from Great Britain and Ireland.London silversmiths: Gabriel Sleath, isaac Dighton, Anthony Nelme, Thomas Heming, George Manjoy, Robert Timbrell & Joseph Bell, Andrew Raven, Pierre Harache, Jacob Margas, James Slater, James Stamp, John Rand, Francis Crump, William Charnelhouse, Thomas Whipham & Charles Wright. Newcastle silversmiths: William Partis, James Kircup, Isaac Cookson, Jonathan French.Dublin silversmiths: William Ramsay, Thomas Walker, William Archdall, Henry Daniell, John Williamson.
If you have any silver chocolate pots or silver in general that you would like to sell, then please contact Robin Newcombe, silver specialist at Grand Auctions, Folkestone, Kent.
- Posted by Robin Newcombe