Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The New Simplex Kettle

My new British tea kettle arrived yesterday from a Sur la Table store in the Midwest, one of the last places in this country (or anywhere, perhaps) to have any of them in stock. The manufacturer, Simplex, which had been making these kettles since 1903 in their Birmingham factory, suddenly went out of business last summer. New kettles are increasingly scarce. I had to search high and low for mine a week or two ago, and now it's getting tougher to find any, especially the chrome, electric-stovetop models.

My kettle was made in 2007, according to the slip of paper inside.

I love it! For one thing, it's chrome-plated solid copper, not stainless steel. There's a reason cars have chrome trim. It's super-shiny compared to our fancy Bodum steel kettle, which I've kept shiny, too. Here are the two side-by-side.* Chrome is a cooler, brighter, more bluish metal than stainless:


We've used the kettle twice, and I am happy to report that the handle stays cool, the lid doesn't fall off when we pour, and it doesn't leak from the lid. It boils quickly, pours nicely, and the whistle is just loud enough to be heard throughout our apartment— and pleasingly pitched. The cats' ears go back, but they don't run; they just look mildly alarmed. They'll get used to it.

There's a metal ball inside the spout that provides the whistle or improves the pouring, or maybe both. It rattles when you tip the kettle, but it's fine. I've read that it freaks our some people when they hear it, but they must be easily upset.

Anyway, it's wonderful to be able to brew a cup of tea whenever I want, without having to worry about getting burned hands in the process. Our old Bodum kettle is handsome, but its swinging handle and loose lid caused me nothing but trouble.

The only drawback I can find with the new kettle is that it only holds about 1-1/2 quarts. That's plenty for a pot of tea, but not quite enough to fill my hot-water bottle. I can augment it with hot tap water.

I was in the Harvard Square Tealuxe the other day — when they happened to be out of both Caramel Crème Brulée and Crème de la Earl Grey teas, dagnabbit. On their display shelves is an interesting collection of antique kettles, mostly dull copper. They all resemble my Simplex Heritage, with its squat body and funny, bent spout. The more I look at mine, the more its shiny curves and quirky details are growing on me. And its clear that these old-fashioned kettles were made to last a lifetime and do. This will likely be the last kettle I'll ever need or want.

I'd initially wanted their "beehive" style instead, which looks more mid-century modern now that I study it:

I've always been an Edwardian at heart, so it's natural that I've come to admire my Edwardian-era kettle. I love old things; our apartment is full of them. I like ancient stoves and those worn, marble-topped sinks with separate hot and cold taps. I love that oval granite mounting block that's on the curb down the street. If I ever get my own horse and carriage, I'm getting into it from there.

If you want a Simplex kettle, trying calling your local Sur la Table store and asking them to do a nationwide search. Or look on eBay for a gently used one; you can get good deals there. Do not fall for reproduction kettles from Old Dutch or other brands. They may look the same, but read the Amazon reviews. They're made in China and they have all kinds of problems. For display purposes only, from what I've read.


*  By the way, that discoloration in my photo, where our bead-board meets the granite isn't dirt, but darkened glue or sealant from the granite installation. It has always driven me crazy, but not crazy enough to repaint our all-white kitchen. I wasn't home when they did it or there'd have been hell to pay.

30 comments:

  1. Thank you for your blog! I was searching and searching for a new kettle to replace the Simplex one I burned up (yikes!) and would not have known about Sur La Table otherwise. I called, and they have one in stock in our store. Again, thank you!

    Michelle

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  2. We were abe to buy their gas stove version at our local Peet's Coffee. They had one left in the box. One on the shelf. It was made in 2008. As a former manufacturing engineer and presently work promoting exports, I am very sorry to hear they went out of business. We need to learn how to make and properly market high-value products in the West.

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  3. Who knew?! I have 2 of the gas stove chrome-plated kettles (perfect condition w/ tags still attached) in my basement that have never been used. I bought them 5 years ago from Williams-Sonoma b/c they were on sale and I thought they would make a great gift someday. I didn't realize that I had anything of value until now!

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  4. Please see other posts!

    Simplex Kettles are back in business! If you reach this page (as I did) in after Feb 2012 and want a simplex then go to http://simplex-kettles.com and order yours.

    I spent half the morning on Ebay trying to get one second hand before finding out that they are still going ... Thank You!

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    Replies
    1. They may have reappeared but their customer service is lacking. Recently purchased a new one which was defective. For four months, My phone calls are unanswered and emails have been ignored. Be careful. They are a significant investment.

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    2. I went to Amazon and saw a complaint, which the company finally settled via email. I also found the Simplex website. It looks like they are still making them in the UK, but it also sounds like there are quality and customer service issues that run contrary to their former, excellent reputation. Since I have my kettle, I'm not able to go once more into the breach and try buying a new one. But it does sound like the company has responded to other complaints and resolved them satisfactorily, so I hope you will keep trying. You might try snail-mail, since old-fashioned tactics might work for this allegedly old-fashioned company. Good luck, and please keep me posted on how you make out. I'd like to do another post about Simplex but I don't have enough information for one. Yet.

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    3. There are lots of fakes on the market. The originals are now at www.richmondkettlecompany.com if you would like to do another review. Seems they reverted to the original name

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  5. Hi there, I was kind of surprised when I was cleaning my chrome covered solid copper tea kettle the other day (I have the kettle pictured above with 2 kettles - I have the kettle on the right) , and noticed inside it there was an area that was copper colored. Is it rusting? Is the chrome colored coating coming off? Is it safe to use? Thanks very much, Donna
    PS: I have it about 15 years.

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    Replies
    1. Hi! Tin doesn't rust. That could be copper. If you have exposed copper areas in your kettle it may not be entirely safe to use, although opinions differ as to how much copper is leached into water when it's boiling. (I wouldn't ever brew tea in it or heat anything else except water.) If you've scrubbed the inside of your kettle with anything abrasive, that could have worn off the tin lining. Heating the kettle at too high a temperature can also ruin the tin lining.

      As you have an older Simplex, it's good quality so, if you love it, it is worth talking to a re-tinner about the problem. Here's the guy I used for mine: www.eastcoasttinning.com Send him photos and he may be able to give you an opinion. Retinning is not cheap.

      On my Simplex, I found had a copper-colored interior more than a year ago — when I decided to take a look at it one day, after years of use. I complained to Simplex and received a replacement kettle from them — a model from the reopened factory. I found it didn't whistle nearly so well as my old kettle, and it was clearly a refurb, with a questionable-looking interior. I think the bad reviews for the "new" Simplex kettles are probably accurate; search online and you may find some. Some of the big online kitchen stores were stocking them again from the reopened factory, but it looks like they stopped, probably because they were getting too many complaints about quality.

      I was not impressed with the replacement kettle, so I paid to have my older kettle retinned. It quickly began to look pretty terrible again inside, but it's not because copper is showing. Instead my tin interior is covered with black spots, which looks sort of like fungus, although it isn't. The East Coast Tinning fellow assured me that it's fine for tin to look that way and not unsafe. It's oxidation or whatever.

      Best of luck to you!

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    2. The quality has been poor for over 20 years and has not improved with imported asian kettles. Once again the kettle you all remember, hand made, hand tinned, 100% made in England is now manufactured and sold by www.richmondkettlecompany.com who have over 3000 followers on the social media facebook page.

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  6. Confirmed and beautiful as they always were. Richmond Kettle Company. Its like my original and is heavier than the fake Simplex and they have recalled it Richmond. The lid seems easier to operate and I have the whistle back as well so the China theory was confirmed with the old Company. These have a website and delivery was around 7 days into Columbus.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment. We have alerted people to the products made in China but some stores want to buy on price alone. Richmond still produce the original kettle, you are welcome to tour the factory, they fully warranty all products and have an incredible back up service. If you want the original Kettle it is the Richmond.

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    2. I am surprised that you say Richmond Kettle Company make the original Simplex kettle as I have recently researched into this before buying one and I discovered that Richmond Kettles was only incorporated in early 2017, the original Simplex kettle was made in Birmingham England by a company called Newey & Bloomer and while they have not made a kettle for a few years they are now back manufacturing the original Simplex kettle again.
      For anyone else that has been as confused as I have and has been searching for the real deal, not a copy their web site is www.neweybloomer.com there is also a Facebook page Simplex Kettles by Newey & Bloomer so if you want an original Simplex Kettle you should check them out. Just ordered mine can't wait for it to arrive!! Will post a review soon

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    3. Thanks for this info! Richmond offered to send me a kettle to review but I never received it, so I have no idea what's going on. I also look forward to your receiving your kettle and hope will give us a review! Thanks again!

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    4. I have just read this. We are waiting for an address to send it to. If you could send a delivery address to sales@richmondkettlecompany.com we will happily wait for your review. You can choose your model at www.richmondkettlecompany.com

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    5. My beautiful kettle from Newey & Bloomer arrived all the way from England 3 days after I ordered it and I cannot tell you how pleased I am with it. The quality is far superior to the last one I had from Simplex Kettles Ltd who it seems from comments here supplied Chinese kettles and have now re-started in 2017 as Richmond Kettles, but I digress, back to the kettle,
      from the packaging (which is a beautiful purple) to the classic traditional look (which is timeless)to the crystal clear whistle I can happily confirm that Newey & Bloomer have totally nailed it!! Anybody looking to buy a copper kettle should check them out at www.neweybloomer.com you won't be disappointed.

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  7. Hi Guys,

    Newey & Bloomer are the historical owners of the Simplex brand are back in business (I helped them build their new site) check it out on www.neweybloomer.co.uk

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  8. Not entirely true. Simplex changed its name to Richmond Kettle company in 2017 because of the amount of fake and chinese products on the market called Simplex. Newey and Bloomer it looks like were formed in 2004 and went bankrupt in 2009. They re started by the look of it a couple of months ago.

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    1. Richmond Kettles are the same company that imported cheap Chinese kettles and sold them as original simplex kettles under the simplex kettle brand be careful when purchasing from them

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    2. Hi Anonymous, can you give us a source for your statement about the Richmond Kettle Company selling Chinese kettles? The neo-Simplex kettle situation is confusing enough without adding unverified charges to the mix. I hope to hear from you. Thanks!

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    3. I can verify because I worked for the group and all Simplex kettles sold thru www.Simplexkettles.com were copied from the original design and imported in from China, we had a return/complaint rate of 2 out of every 3 sold very poor manufacture quality Richmond Kettles are the same company same owner just renamed due to the level of complaints and the bad name they caused to be attached to the previous company

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    4. This is a 100% untrue comment. Kettles up until we made a decision to Launch Richmond to stop all of the quality issues all Kettles were made or purchased via an agreement with Leemark Spinning who are now Simplex, Newey and Bloomer or whatever they are now called. The first Kettle Richmond produced in house was this year 2017. So if the original design was indeed imported from China it would have been set up and purchased under license by Leemark Spinning as you know. We at that time and up until 2017 were simply the marketing side of the company who like the customers voted with our feet and started to produce a kettle now with a seamless spout, original thickness material, no weld around the centre line, suitable for work on any stove top including induction and completely hand made. So the two new companies now making the kettle started in 2017 and I will leave it to the customers to decide.A return/rejection rate in 2016 of 2 out of every 3 kettles were produced by Leemark Spinning/Newey Bloomer and not by ourselves.

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  9. My wife and I actually met with one of the directors of the makers of the Simplex kettles the other day. A really nice bloke and a fellow Brummie, too! A Brummie is a native of Birmingham England, known as the workshop of the world. The kettles are wonderful, we own one. We have a review of the kettle on https://thatschristmas.blogspot.co.uk

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  10. So what is the verdict all? Richmond or neweybloomer? I wish to purchase a replacement for an old burnt out chrome model. This thread is fascinating, but inconclusive.

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    1. Hello George, I received a Richmond copper kettle to review last month, and have only begun using it since we were away for a few weeks. The first kettle I received from them was defective although it looked like an original Simplex and was actually heavier; the second kettle is very nice but doesn't have the strong whistle of the Simplex. The interior of the kettle is already looking a bit scary even though we've barely used it. I was promised a Richmond chrome kettle from them to test side-by-side with my chrome Simplex, but haven't received it. I do not have a Newey & Bloomer Simplex to try. I will be posting about the Richmond kettle soon but my knowledge is limited to these two copper kettles. You may want to try the other maker if you want a kettle with a strong whistle or are concerned about discolored tin interiors. This one seems solid and well made but the whistle isn't right. I've never seen a Newey & Bloomer but would like to!

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    2. George. To help you conclude the thread please e mail me your address to sales@richmondkettlecompany.com and I will happily send a kettle for you to review honestly and let me know. Seems we have a lot of stone throwing on this link from an awful lot of anonymous which I would sooner not get involved in. Anybody in or visiting the UK please come and see our production plant and the amount of care and consideration that goes into making each and every Richmond Kettle. If you believe in your product there is no need to attempt to undermine that of a competitor and I would sooner stand behind the quality of our kettle than discuss another newly on the market. I truly hope you accept this offer and look forward to your review.

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    3. George
      I, also, am befuddled. I was looking to replace my original Simplex patented, Made in England Kettle so I sent the engraved patent info to both Newey and Bloomer and Richmond. I received the following reply from Richmond:

      We are Richmond Kettle Company Ltd and we manufacture Richmond kettles. We have no affiliation with Simplex.
      Our kettles are 100% handmade in England and so we state on our website that orders may take up to 60 days to complete. When we have stock available, orders are shipped immediately. Due to machine shut downs and being in the middle of holiday season, we are advising customers that it is likely their orders will be shipped close to the end of this 40days, especially if the orders are for one of our Heritage No 4 models.

      Our full range can be viewed by visiting www.richmondkettlecompany.com
      If we can be of further assistance then please do not hesitate to contact us.

      Kind regards,

      Hayleigh Southwell
      Sales Administrator

      +44 (0) 1953 889740
      www.richmondkettlecompany.com

      Based on this letter I purchased the copper kettle (of my dreams!) from Newey and Bloomer. It just arrived, but there is a problem, it whispers, not whistles, I believe because the lid is not properly fitted. They have responded to my email and will call me tomorrow to take care of the situation. It is a beautiful kettle, with a beautiful copper glow, and a solid tin interior, the patent numbers on the base are the same, the exception is the new copper one states The Newey and Bloomer Simplex patent kettle vs my 15+ year old one state The Simplex patent kettle. All patents and registration numbers are the same. The weight of the copper kettle is 1140 gms and the chrome plated is 1006 gms. I think the problem with the whistle is the fit of the lid, and hopefully they will send me a new one. The cost of shipping the kettle back to England from San Francisco would be considerable. I will let you know the final outcome. With my older kettle I can pick up the kettle by the lid, when it is empty, not so with the new copper one.

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  11. Follow-up on my loose lid: Newey and Bloomer called me, and were very apologetic that the lid was apparently loose, reviewed the proper technique for putting the lid on (air vent facing spout, push flat until it clicks down) and shake to be certain the ball is loose in the chamber) to which I said yes, except my lid did not click down, it just mushed in place. With many apologies, she will be sending me a new lid, mid August, because the factory is currently closed for a two week holiday. She said that if the new lid did not do the trick they would send a completely new kettle immediately, and cover postage for the return of my first pot. Excellent customer service.
    On the other confusion between the two companies issue. How can Richmond Kettles display the same patent and registration numbers on the kettle base as the Newey Bloomer Simplex Kettles if they are not related. https://www.richmondkettlecompany.com/heritage/ Weird. Someone is not telling the whole story. More to come, but my pot of tea is waiting.

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  12. George, Simple answer. The patent expired in the 1950's but the design is the same. It seems you are having the same quality issues we had when they produced for us but I can assure you that you have a kettle from a company who started producing in 2017. I would be interested to know the name of the person who contacted you from the company. Could I ask I assume your old kettle is 1140 gms and the new one 1006? Please still feel free to let me know if you wish to receive and compare the Richmond Kettle. I think you will be surprised.

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    1. Graham,
      You read my post too hastily and I want to correct your misstatement before you run with it. My new copper kettle from Newey and Bloomer Simplex weighs 1140 gms, My old Chrome Simplex kettle (c 20 ish years ago weighs 1006 gms. Thank you for explaining the identical patent numbers with the expiration in the 1950s. That helps the confusion. I will be patient and wait for the new lid to arrive after holiday, and if necessary a brand new kettle. Thank you for your offer to send a Richmond Kettle but I do not need to send $600 on tea kettles. It would be a while for it to arrive anyway, I believe Hayleigh said there was a factory closure for holiday as well.
      Thank you for taking the time, especially as the CEO of the company, to respond. You appear to have many successful interests far beyond the tea world. Congratulations. We are just plain folks, looking to enjoy a good cup of tea. We are aware that Newey and Bloomer recently reincorporated ( or whatever the UK terminology is ), as this information is on their website. There is an English website that lists the incorporation of Richmond Kettle Company LTD as incorporating in February of 2017, so I suspect both companies are trying to grow forward with a quality product, and I see you are in many English retailers so I truly wish both companies success.
      My everyone's kettle whistle clearly and may we always enjoy a perfect cuppa just when we need it.
      Kaethe

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I love getting comments and do my best to follow up if you have a question. I delete spam, attempts to market other websites, and anything nasty or unintelligible. The cats and I thank you for reading — and please do leave a comment that isn't spam, etc.