Saturday, July 11, 2009

Grandma Smith's Mystery Teapot

Great Grandma Smith, married first in 1900, later in 1914, both times in Seattle. She is nineteen years old in this wedding portrait.

Hotel Butler, a formerly grand hotel in the Pioneer Square area of Seattle. The hotel has been torn down and is now a parking garage. Notice the insignia; it's the same as on the teapot below.

The teapot with the engraved insignia of the Hotel Butler

I was "up north" this week visiting my aunt, a woman I adore, and who has agreed to be my "substitute mom" since my mother died a few years ago. She was having a rummage sale, and asked me to help her get a few items down from high shelves for the sale. When she saw this 8 oz. silver teapot, she said that it had belonged to her grandmother, my great-grandmother.

I did a little online digging around. It turns out that this is a Reed and Barton teapot. They were produced between 1900 and 1940 for use in restaurants and hotels, and usually had the hotel's name engraved on the bottom. This one said "Hotel Butler." At first I thought that was a brand name, but then reconsidered. I knew she was married in Seattle, twice (two different men). Her second husband came from a well-to-do family, and the Hotel Butler was once one of Seattle most elegant hotels, catering to those returning successfully from the Yukon gold rush. It stood in the Pioneer Square Skid Road district, a place I visited in May. I also found an image of a postcard of the hotel, and the little symbol engraved on the teapot is also on the postcard.

I wonder if my oh-so-proper English grandmother walked off with a souvenir of her honeymoon?


JoAnn said...

How old was she in that photo? She looks like a young girl!

I do not usually like old "stuff" but I love that teapot. What a find. Did you bring it home with you?

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