Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Settling for a Kettle

My exhaustive search for a Simplex Beehive chrome kettle was a failure; no online retailers have them anymore. Random calls to independent kitchen and British imports stores came up dry, too. I tried to order one from the Simplex website, even though I'd heard that the 107-year-old British company had shut its doors overnight last summer, leaving vendors hanging without contact info or new stock. Their site appeared to accept my order, but I didn't receive a confirmation, my email inquiries were undeliverable, and my credit card hasn't been charged.

If the kettle arrives, I'll be amazed and delighted. In the meantime, I've located their other three models for electric stoves (they also make gas versions with special, coiled bases). From everything I've read,  these are the best kettles on the market, made in England without many changes since Edwardian era. Here's what their (now-defunct) website has to say:
Malleable and ductile, copper is the perfect metal for kitchen appliances. With its superb thermal conductivity properties, and when lined with pure tin or nickel chrome, copper makes for one of the best cookware metals available. Robust yet light weight, impressive and attractive, your kitchen will lbe enhanced with a Simplex addition. As all our kettles conform to all U.K & U.S. safety standards, not only will you have the best looking kettle, you'll also have the safest.

Based in the heart of Britain at the fulcrum of its transport network and traditional manufacturing hub, Simplex has a hugely experienced staff, a high quality and well equipped factory, and customer service which is the envy of our competitors. We treat each transaction as a personal agreement, and strive to ensure that our customers are happy with their choice both at the point of sale and once the item is delivered.

Each and every product in our copper kettle range is checked up to 20 times during production, and we have models to suit gas and ceramic hobs, ranges, electric hotplates and spirit stoves. Manufacturing standard sized tea kettles for the kitchen and miniature versions for camping, caravanning or maritime use, we export widely throughout the world, and are market leaders in the U.S. 
Well, so much for that. You can find vintage and even antique Simplexes on eBay. For once, I prefer new and shiny to "experienced."

A handful of retailers still have the other models. When those are gone, that's probably that. Sur la Table still has the Heritage model in copper, available online. The chrome Heritage kettle is available in a few of their stores:
My new kettle.

I ordered one from a store near Detroit; they had three. This design has been growing on me; I like the handle and the built-in whistle. (I hope it doesn't upset the cats.) It's reminding me more of Mrs. Bridges from Upstairs Downstairs and less of my moody Irish grandmother, whose own kettle probably looked like this:

Cheap, homely kettle of my youth.

Three copper Beehives are available from a shop called SpecialTeas:

It's a handsome design, but keeping copper that shiny is an endless chore — and I love to polish silver. Dull copper is a very depressing sight. Besides, I already have various silvery things around my kitchen. Copper would clash.

So my decision was made, and I'm looking forward to boiling some water without being singed or scalded. I don't plan to go kettle shopping ever again. 

But before I go back to boring you about cats and other non-kettle topics, I have to show you the most gorgeous kettle I found — this Italian one, in sterling silver, for just $1,013.55.  Serves four, so it must be tiny. I suppose it could do double duty as an evening bag.


  1. I found your blog when last night I went to order our Simplex tea kettle from Sur La Table and found them all sold out. I panicked, called the store down in Annapolis and ran to pick up the last one they had (the chrome gas version). Love your writing style, think I'll be sticking around!

  2. Ok...now I can't wander through the kitchen department of any store without thinking of you and kettles, hahameow!


Spam goes right into the trash but I appreciate relevant comments from non-spammers (and I can always tell the difference). I do my best to follow up if you have a question. ALL spam, attempts to market other websites, and anything nasty or unintelligible gets deleted instantly. The cats and I thank you for reading — and please feel free to comment on what you read.