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Sigmund Wyler arrived in New York City from Switzerland in 1890 to establish S. Wyler, Inc. Now in its fourth generation, S. Wyler, Inc. is the oldest silver firm in the United States specializing in old English and American silver.
With the resurgence of home entertaining, afternoon tea is once again reaching new heights in popularity. The essence of the tea hour seems to be forever associated with England and no where will one find finer examples of old English silver tea wares than at S. Wyler.

The origins of these pieces are as interesting as their uses.

TEA POTS: The earliest know silver tea pot was made in 1670, now in the Victoria and Albert museum in London. Prior to 1727, due to the expense of tea, teapots were quite small in size. It was not until 1727-59, during the reign of George II that teapots were made of a larger size. As the publics demand for tea wares grew, what began with rather simple styles developed into exquisite masterpieces of creativity

TEA CUPS and SAUCERS: Although quite rare, due the conducted heat retained while in use, silver tea cups and saucers exist dating from 1684 to 1700. They are, however, mostly housed in museums or private collections. Reed & Barton Loveland Rose 5 Piece Tea Set w/Tray Influenced by the early Chinese forms, they were made without handles, with both the cups and the saucers in the convex fluted style.

SUGAR BOWLS: The popularity of tea drinking brought with it the use of sugar. Silver sugar basins were first introduced under the reign of William III, 1695-1702. Again, originally Chinese influenced, they were made with a rounded base and saucer like cover. Transforming later to the three footed style to compliment the tea pots they accompanied. Silver sugar baskets first appeared at the time of Queen Anne and reappeared with colored glass linings at the end of the eighteenth century.

CREAMERS: The English, during the Queen Anne period, were the first to use cream (milk) and sugar in their tea. The earliest silver specimens were simple with round feet, again evolving in later years to the style of the tea services of which they were a part.

TEA CADDIES: the word caddy is derived from the Malay word “KATE” which means a weight equivalent to 1 and 1/15 of a pound. As tea was always sold by the ‘Kate’, the name caddy became associated to the container in which the tea was held. In order to keep blends separated, tea caddies were originally made with a lock and key in sets of three and later in a set of two. As the price of tea became more affordable, the sizes of tea caddies increased.

TEA KETTLES: A mounted tea pot on a base with a spirit lamp for the purpose of heating. With no known existing examples, the earliest mentioned tea kettle was in 1687 of Royal Warrant. Examples executed in 1709 by the celebrated Anthony Nelme, are now owned by the Duke Of Portland. In keeping with the high costs of tea, infusion at the table not only prevented waste, but insured that the water was served at the correct temperature. This explains not only the introduction of the tea kettle but it popularity as well. It is important to note that when purchasing antique silver kettles, one must insure the hallmarks on the bodies and stand match.

TEA URNS: Silver tea urns are used at large functions to contain hot water. It is not advisable to use an urn for brewing, as the results will be less than desirable.

TEA SERVICES: 1790 saw the incorporation of the first silver tea service containing a tea pot, sugar and creamer. The complete tea service of six pieces with a kettle, coffee pot and waste bowl of uniform design was not seen until the mid eighteen hundreds. Queen Victoria's love of afternoon tea produced an enthusiasm matched by many fine silversmiths whose tea services are greatly sought-after even today.

THE CARE AND CLEANING OF SILVER: All silver should be cleaned on a regular basis and with great care using a standard polish or paste applied by hand. No dipping solutions, as they strip the patina of the silver. Always use a soft cloth or sponge, Rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth or towel. never use steel wool or any solutions that would cause abrasions to the silver. If silver is left to tarnish to the point where buffing is required, the piece is in danger of eradicating its hallmarks. Fine silver may be individually wrapped in protective anti-tarnish bags for storage. Silver lacquering is not approved of as it causes a glaring finish, which detracts from the beauty of the natural patina.

THE BOOK OF SILVER by S. Wyler, Inc. 941 Lexington Avenue, NYC, NY 10021 tele (212) 879-9848

More of Ellen's Articles:

Planning a Tea Menu

FAQ About Afternoon Tea

A Spring Tea Menu

Tea and Silver

Tea at the Holidays

Understanding Tea Time Service

The Afternoon Tea Gown

The History of Chocolate

A Summer Rose Tea

Etiquette Faux Pas


About The Author

Ellen Easton, author of TEA TRAVELS(TM), TEA PARTIES and Good $ense For $uccess(TM) published by RED WAGON PRESS, 45 East 89th Street, Suite 20A, NYC, NY 10128-1256: (212) 722-7981, is a consultant and designer of related products, to the hotel, food service, special event and retail industries. She is also available for speaking engagements. Please contact her for more information.

Ellen Easton, the author, does not endorse any outside advertisements that may appear on this site.

No copyrighted materials may be reproduced in any other format, now known or unknown, without prior written permission by Ellen Easton/ RED WAGON PRESS. All copyrights and trademarks remain the sole property of Ellen Easton/ RED WAGON PRESS with all rights reserved. (212) 722-7981


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