English Dovetailed Copper Stockpot

Date/Circa: 1900
Origin: England
Size: Pot stands 10″ high and has a 10″ diameter
Catalogue No: Ao571
Price: $330

It’s winter. It’s cold and it’s dark. Let’s face it, it’s not palm trees and gentle breezes out there. When I can’t go to the sunshine and warmth, I go to my kitchen. What could be a more satisfying substitute than an afternoon’s peaceful work of chopping and browning, the delicate handling of fresh herbs, the aromas, as the flavors slowly develop and, most importantly, the pleasure of sampling the fruits of my labour: a hearty stew or soup. Be inspired with a copper stockpot of your own: our English Stock Pot with Cover, ca 1900. It has dovetailed seams at the side and bottom ­ a rare find.

Dovetailing was a very labor ­intensive and exacting skill and it demanded thicker copper to enable the formation of the joins. First the coppersmith must cut a rectangle of thick milled copper to form the sides of the pot, then he hammered the edges of the two short sides to about half their original thickness. Next, he cut slits on the hammered edges and folded up every other tab. He formed the cylinder by fitting the two edges together, flattening and hammering the tabs, and then brazing the seam for a perfect seal. The hardest part of the process was his shaping the bottom’s curve by hammering the bottom copper disk over a form, which then was attached to the cylinder by using the same dovetail method.

Even after the mid­ nineteenth century, country craftsmen stuck to this tried­ and true method, when larger, industrial workshops abandoned it in favor of the faster method: spinning thinner copper onto a lathe. Still, into the early 20th century, unique and special limited items were made in this manner, as they were rare enough to merit the extra cost of the labour and thicker copper. Imagine the number of times this 19th century beauty has sat atop a cook stove wood fired, coal fired, gas lit, holding a delicious cold­weather nourishment. Start your own tradition. Here is the perfect cooking pot to try our favorite, Irish Stew*.