What Is It?

What Is It?

An object hanging from a hook on a wooden porch by a chain. The object is cast iron and has two spouts stuffed with straw.

I was traveling recently and came across an object that I found interesting. I was uncertain what this item was intended for. In addition, I saw another item that I was more familiar with and was intrigued by. Even though National Mystery Month occurs in May, October is an equally opportune time to solve mysteries. Before reading the descriptors…. see if you know what the objects are used for, and what they are called. Have fun solving the mystery of “What is it?”. 

Object #1 

An oblong, cast iron object with a spout on either side. It has a hook in the front, a heavy lid, and the letters 'BH'.

What is this object?

At first glance I surmised that it could possibly be a teapot used for camping. It appears to be able to pour liquid out from either side. However, my context clues told me otherwise! Clue # 1 - I was in a museum that is specific to a non-tea related industry. Clue #2 - This receptacle does hold liquid. Clue #3 - This item is not used for pouring.

The unique looking vessel is called a Yellow Dog Lantern. It is a receptacle that holds oil for burning. This quirky lantern provides light at night for oil workers, illuminating well heads and pump engines. The burning flames at each end of the lantern are eerily reminiscent of a rabid dog’s yellow eyes glowing at night. Folklore holds that the lantern cast an uncanny shadow very similar to the head of a dog. Yellow Dog Lanterns were first manufactured for the oil industry in the late 1800’s. The lanterns are fabricated in cast iron, are very heavy, and unlikely to tip over and spill.

The rags placed in the ends of the lantern add to the mystique of a dog head. The frayed cloth, used as wicks, looks like the long hair on the ends of a dog’s ears.

Object #2 

A steel, short and stout object with a handle at the top and a thin spout. At the bottom is a row of holes, revealing coils on the inside.

What is this object?

If you guessed a tea kettle, you are correct. I saw this tea kettle in an antique store. The tea kettle is named the Simplex Buckingham Tea Kettle. The kettle was designed by the English company Newey and Bloomer in 1903. There are numerous patents registered specific to the design of the kettle. Originally, the tea kettle was made for use with a gas stove. The coils added to the bottom of the kettle help control the gas flames on ranges or stove tops that have virtually no flame control. A rapid boil is obtained due to the ingenious creation of the teapot coils. The kettle is additionally made with a flat bottom for electric stove tops. The tea kettles are manufactured in copper or chrome. The price of antique tea kettles can vary greatly depending upon the condition of the tea kettle, the material used to make the kettle and the state of the inside of the kettle.

Life can be awash with mysteries. There is no mystery surrounding tea though. Tea is always a satisfying beverage, hot or cold!

Happy sipping,


About The Author

A photo of Leslie on the patio wearing a pink cardiganLeslie Sundberg is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Specialist, a World Tea Academy Apprentice Tea Sommelier, a Specialty Tea Institute Level IV trained Tea Specialist, and a Tea and Business Etiquette Specialist. On any given day, Leslie can be found teaching, speaking or sharing in the joys of a cup of tea.  No matter what Leslie is doing or where she is, one thing remains constant: 4:00 in the afternoon is tea time!

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