Hot-water urn of silver, made in Edinburgh

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Postcard of Hot-water urn of silver, made in Edinburgh.
© National Museums Scotland

Hot-water urn of silver, made in Edinburgh

This silver hot-water urn, used to hold hot water for filling teapots at the tea table, was made in Edinburgh in 1759-60 by Alexander Gairdner. Its 'egg-shaped' design is unique to Scotland and only about ten of these urns have survived.

The urn has a distinctive ovoid body with snake shaped handles, a projecting tap and a separate lid. This is the latest in date of all the egg-shaped urns, and is unusual in being profusely decorated with rococo motifs.

The inspiration for the design of this type of urn may have come from silver-mounted ostrich eggs. Some of the urns may originally have had spirit burners to keep the water hot.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-001-091-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  H.MEQ 1190
Date: 1759 - 1760
Material: Silver. Inscription: AG; castle [Edinburgh]; thistle [?]; E [gothic]; above tap: [in a cartouche] a boar's head / FORWARD OURS
Dimensions: 289 mm H x 252 mm L
What: Tea urn
Subject: Gold and silver (NMAS Classification)
Who: Alexander Gairdner, Edinburgh (Silversmith)
Where: Scotland, Midlothian, Edinburgh
Description: Egg-shaped silver tea-urn on three legs, the body covered by panels of chased decoration, by Alexander Gairdner, Edinburgh, 1759 - 1760, engraved with a crest and motto "Forward Ours"
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