Gardening Heritage Wildflowers & Trees Of Appalachia

Help Me Solve 2 Mysteries

A good friend recently gave me this old cast iron tea kettle. A lady gave it to him-and told him it was her Grandmother’s-and that it was old as the hills.

number 7 tea pot

The top has a swinging lid-with a beautiful Star and the number 7.

cast iron mark
The bottom has one mark-it looks like a backwards 4.

The spout-is almost bird like-

and just behind the spout is another 7. I love the tea kettle. I like how it looks-I’m partial to stars so I like that decorative touch and I like the sturdy feel of the piece too.

When my friend gave it to me-we stood and talked about how many times the tea kettle must have been used through the years. How many times it had been filled with water and set on an old wood stove-or maybe hung over an open fire. That’s the main reason I love the tea kettle-all the history that lives inside the cast iron makes it priceless to me.

Do you know how old it is? Have you ever seen a tea kettle like it? Do you know who made it?

false hazel nut 3
Now for the 2nd mystery. See the nut like thing above-I’ve been trying to figure out what it is all summer. About a week ago, a friend sent me a pic of one he found to see if I knew what it was. At first glance he thought it was a Hazel Nut.

false hazel nut
They grow in the edge of the woods behind my house. They sorta resemble a mayapple-but that’s not what it is. Although the ones I found aren’t much taller than a mayapple plant.

The photos above were taken earlier in the summer-I went out to see if I could find one this morning-and they’re all gone-something must like to eat them. Do you know what it is?



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  • Reply
    Mark Burks
    October 26, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    The tea pot or water kettle i have a #8 with the star and all. mine has the gate mark which indicates made in the 1800’s. Stamped in the bottom also is the initials FG. Fillmore Gibson took over the company in the 1880’s and it was located in Chattanooga if memory serves me correctly. The company changed owners and names several times and went out of business late 1890’s early 1900’s and was last called Chattanooga iron works or stove works. I’ve seen them called “bird spout” kettles as well.
    Found this information online and im going off memory so if my details are off i apologize!

  • Reply
    December 31, 2011 at 2:17 am

    We have a kettle just like it .

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    September 15, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    I am late posting on this mystery..I believe the kettle (water) is earlier that some of the foundrys around here…but I have seen the same spout (almost like a pie bird) on the Wagner cast kettle..I would hate to wag that heavy thing to heat water in for baths, washing inside in the winter, and whatever else you needed hot water on the stove for..maybe the wash pans…my grandparents had a wash pan on a shelf in the kitchen by the door with a mirrow above..and everyone washed their hands when they came in from the field..a large towel hung on a hook…the large cast iron stove sat almost in the middle of the kitchen with a kettle of hot water on it all the time…or unless the fire went to embers…
    My parents (we are in the process of clearing the estate) had a kettle like it with the short bird mouth spout with wire handle, attached lid and rounded bottom…so far we cannot find it..we have found two churns, and a cast iron stove, skillets, dutch ovens, irons, etc..
    I also think since yours was found in NC..our family was all from NC..It may have been made to fit in the eye of a cast iron stove, from the bottom shape of it…
    The plant hip is a little trickier…Did you see the bloom in the spring..that would give a hint..also what is the growth habit..shrubby or single stand…does the stem turn to hard stem or stay green like a standard weed? It may be one of those plants that only give seed pods when the conditions/years or just right..I have an idea or two but the look just don’t match the picture in my mind..I have noticed some changes this year in a lot of our plants..extreme growth…more seed pods being produced than usual…

    • Reply
      May 3, 2019 at 6:50 am

      It may look like a tea pot but far as I know, this is not a tea pot. it go’s in your fireplace to put steam in to the air & up the smoke stack to prevent stack fires & help clean it , hence why it was made so heavy. so it could hold up to the heat .far as I know it was not built to go in a stove eye.
      we have two of them an they have been used this way since the 1800’s on.
      this is also why you will find it so rusty in side, they almost always never cleaned out.

  • Reply
    September 15, 2010 at 8:12 am

    I came into possesion of a similar tea kettle this spring! The husband was scraping and this is what someone threw out! I had never seen one before.This one has a bird-like spout like yours,but no numbers or star on it. The handle looks like a newer replacement. I love antiques and all things old and considered this quite a “find” Made a neat planter for my front walk!

  • Reply
    September 14, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Can’t help anymore with the kettle. But I got my oldest girl
    on the nut thing in your yard.
    She’s a botanist, also. Maybe
    something will come of that. Enjoyed all your commenting folks.
    Its amazing at all the help out
    there that reads your blog. It does make for a better place to visit…Ken

  • Reply
    Vera Guthrie
    September 14, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    I forgot to metion Wagner Ware I think originated in Ohio.

  • Reply
    Vera Guthrie
    September 14, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    The kettle looks like a rendering pot from Wagner Ware. The plant has be stumped !!!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    September 14, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Tipper: Like others, I have the kettle sitting on my hearth. One of the precious things I got from my parents long ago. I have sent your inquiry to a couple of friends who KNOW THEIR PLANTS! Maybe they will determine the name of the fruit/nut! Eva Nell

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    September 14, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    hiya tipper ,, gosh that teapot is gorgeous no wonder you love it.. and im not an expert at that stuff.. but believe me.. there seems to be lots of people here who are very intelligent on that sort of thing..
    and as for the hazelnut thing.. lol.. you know what it looks like to me is whats left on roses … wh
    en they are bloomed.. and it holds the seeds.. and thats probably why you didnt see any now .. as it ripened and opened up and the seeds were popped our or scattered by birds.. or squirrels..
    thanks for always being so interesting . i just love your blog and learning..
    big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    September 14, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    The Greek author Antipater of Sidon, who lived in the 2nd century B.C., was one of several writers to list the greatest monuments and buildings known to the classical world. He settled on seven because that was considered a magic number by the Greeks.The signification of stars is the knowledge of good and truth. So…where’s the mystery? It’s a magic kettle which holds so much knowledge of so many past generations.

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    September 14, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    tipper;we have a kettle just the same as yours except its number eight, it appears to be the same size so the number might be the base width. it sets outside the year around, and everyone asks about it, we just tell um its an oldtimer. i remember as a child my grandmothers pouring hot water into a galvenized wash tub for our bath. great stuff you come up with .your friend k.o.h

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    September 14, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    An Amazing Tea Pot.
    As far as the nut, I have been too long away from the woods to know and recognize the things that grow there.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    September 14, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Tipper–Alas, it looks like there is a profusion of teapot information and none on the plant. Don (who presumably mentioned the plant to you) and I are both fairly conversant with flora and fauna, and I’ve always been fascinated by wild edibles. In fact, all but one of the cookbooks my wife and I have written focus on foods from nature.
    Don sent me a photo of the plant you show a month or so ago and had it captioned as a hazelnut. I corrected him and since then neither of us has come up with further answers.
    I still hope someone will know, but when you’ve had more than a dozen teapot answers and none on the plant, I despair. Also, I’ve been attuned to the blog long enough to know that you have a bunch of readers who are closely attuned to mountain ways. If only my Grandpa Joe was still alive, I’ll virtually guarantee he would know.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    September 14, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    I can’t help you with either one, but enjoy reading what other folks have to say.

  • Reply
    Grandma Sallie
    September 14, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Love the tea kettle. Good luck in finding the information on the tea kettle and the nut thingy.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    September 14, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Our people used “general purpose” kettles like that to heat water on the stove for shaving, bathing and other needs for hot water before water heaters were common. (Our first water heater was coal fired. I kept the coal bucket full and took out the ashes. Mama had to light it, though.) I also believe the 7 is the size in quarts. That would be quite large for a “tea” kettle.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Unless the number refers to size,I have no idea. So like old cast iron. Use my skillets all time. Don’t know about the nut. Hope you find the answer. Interesting.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    September 14, 2010 at 8:44 am

    I looked online and found that the spout is indeed called a bird spout. The 7 is probably the diameter of the bottom of the kettle–different wood/coal cookstoves had different diameter lids so it would be important to get a kettle that fit down in the hole where the lid would be–by fitting into the hole, the base of the kettle is closer to the flame and the water heats faster. I had one very like yours once, sold it when I was broke 🙁 and now you’ve got me looking for another one–still have my wood cookstove!
    As someone else mentioned the A is probably the makers mark. I wonder if it could indicate the place the kettle was made too? Different makers would change the name of the company or join briefly with another company so the mark could indicate a name or a particular period of time in the maker’s history. Here is some information about Griswold cast iron and marks:
    and here is a LOT more information about time periods and how to recognize age in a piece:
    Based on the information in this piece, it sounds like your kettle was made in the early 1900’s because it was made for a cookstove and not a hearth. That’s just a guess, though.
    I love this kind of detective work!

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    September 14, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Before the EPA and government made it impossible for foundries to make a profit and drove almost all of them out of business, every town of any size had at least one foundry and many of them made cast iron cookware. Antique and collectible buyers probably know Wagner Ware and the many beautiful pieces made by that foundry in Sidney, Ohio, at which I worked.
    Just up the road at Saint Marys, another foundry made cast iron pieces for cookware and other industry. A stone’s throw away, The Wapakoneta Foundry made very good and well-known cookware, such as cast iron skillets, pots, kettles, etc.
    WagnerWare usually had that name cast into the bottom of each piece and is easily identified on antique shelves. Saint Marys did not always put a logo on their castings (old timers may remember the famous Saint Marys blankets made in the same Ohio town, that peddlers brought around for your momma buy with her egg and butter money).
    The Wapakoneta Foundry used a star on the bottom of its cookware as its logo and sometimes the name Wapakoneta on the bottom of its cookware.
    I wish I could say for certain that your tea kettle was made at Wapak. Maybe enough research will eventually show that to be true.
    As to the spout: The bird’s beak, downspout, design was a functional feature and not at first a beauty mark. The spouts were made that way to direct the boiling water downward, safely. Remember the boiling, bubbling, fiery hot water that spewed and splashed out of the spout as it came to a boil on the cookstove and how one could easily be scalded, except that the water was directed downward by the spout when pouring. The swinging, attached lid was also a safety feature.
    If you look at the “vintage, cast iron, tea kettle” items on eBay and other websites, the curved bird’s beak spout is the common design.
    One more thing; Your bale probably had a spiral wire handle on it originally. These spirals provided a cool-enough way to handle the tea kettle and pour and unintentionally added its beauty.
    Numbers and letters were used on core molds and on the sand casting molds for mold and cast date identity, as a foundry usually had several molds for a line’s production.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2010 at 7:07 am

    I can’t help ya either.
    I was hoping in the comments that someone would have been able to solve the mysteries.
    When you do get them solved, be sure to let us know!

  • Reply
    September 14, 2010 at 5:56 am

    I adore your tea kettle!
    At first glance I thought that it was a may apple – I loved may apples as a child.

  • Reply
    Canned Quilter
    September 14, 2010 at 3:30 am

    I have no idea about the tea kettle Tipper but I have one very similar. The markings are different though. As to the plant ya got me. It does look interesting though !!!

  • Reply
    September 13, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    I would check with this company they were “nestled alongside the Cumberland Plateau of the Appalachian Mountains is the town of South Pittsburg, Tennessee (population 3,300). Yet out of this tiny community comes the finest cast iron cookware in the world” They had a cookware called Logic 7. I would ask.
    Still looking at the nut.

  • Reply
    Kim Campbell
    September 13, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Clueless on both, but I’d love to find a cast iron tea kettle!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 13, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Tipper, have no idea what the plant is or the teapot. I bet if you emailed a pic to the griswold online group they could tell you.

  • Reply
    September 13, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    If you go to Google, then click on “images”, then you can search for pictures of your tea kettle. Just type in what you think it might be (like the above comment) and you may get some good hits with pictures/info. I did this recently after I purchased a spool rope bed from the 1850’s and I was able to search out a little information on it. Don’t know what to say about the nut thing. We have a hazelnut tree here on the farm and they don’t look like that.

    • Reply
      Melissa Drake
      August 30, 2019 at 6:48 pm

      I believe the tea pot was made by a foundry in Tennessee. It is called a Chattanooga star.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    September 13, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Wonderful teakettle! Wish I could help but I haven’t a clue about either.

  • Reply
    September 13, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    As far as the kettle goes I think it is from the early to mid 1800’s
    especially during the civil war era when they numbered everything from unit to unit.
    That is my guess.
    Whitetail Woods Blog / Blackpowder Shooting

  • Reply
    September 13, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    That is an awesome tea kettle, can’t wait to find out moer about it!!!

  • Reply
    September 13, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    I believe the 7 on the teapot, which is cast iron so it’s from the second quarter of the 1800s or somewhat later, designates the manufacturers size or the number of quarts the pot holds. Cast iron cookware, as you probably know, was sold by size. ‘Tis a beauty. When tea became very fashionable to drink in the mid 19th century, the tops of the teapots became larger so you could plop the tea in them easier — yours, with a flat bottom, was made for a stove top or flat surface as opposed to hanging from a crane. Just love old cookware!

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    September 13, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    What a pretty kettle! I’m going to guess that the number is the size–with cast iron the frying pans, usually the number is the diameter. I say maybe from the 1870’s-1910 or so. Sometimes a particular number becomes collectible. I recall my father telling me that a certain number skillet made by Griswold was worth a lot of money. Of course, me, I just use them!
    As for the nut/fruit thing–no idea. However, I noticed that some flowering shrubs that usually do not have fruit have something like fruit on them this year–the Bradford pears, for instance, and japonica, or flowering quince, both have fruits this year. Very strange.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    September 13, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    That kettle is just too cool!! What a find. Have no clue about the markings on it tho.
    When I first saw the plant, I thought of a mayapple.
    Hazelnuts are a tree arent’ they?
    Patty H.

  • Reply
    September 13, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    You have me stumped on both! Hope you solve your mysteries.

  • Reply
    Judith Alef
    September 13, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Hi Tipper! The 7 denotes size; the top and bottom are matched. The spout shape is found on early porcelain tea servers and pie birds. The maker’s mark is gonna take a while to find.
    I love cast iron and have some odd pieces too that took a while to figure out. I love the hunt! Here’s one of my work in progress blogs:

  • Reply
    September 13, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    no idea what the nutty thing is. I think that tea kettle is probalby from the 1700’s easy, what a wonder to behold. maybe you could find a dealer that could tell you. or go to the library and find a book of antigues. its wonderful and you are blessed to have it.

  • Reply
    September 13, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Hmmm…no help on either mystery from here, Tipper. I do love the kettle, though. What a treasure. Have a great week.

  • Reply
    September 13, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    love, Love, LOVE the teapot, tipper! 🙂

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