Spotlight 13/2020

    It looks like the front of a vintage carOldtimervintage car with its elegant curves, smooth lines and side lights — and a clock in the middle. An alarm clock perhaps? But what’s that porcelain container for? It looks like a teapot. And what about the kettleWasserkesselkettle on the other side? This deviceGerätdevice — a Teasmade — prepares your first cup of tea of the day, ready to drink before you get out of bed.

    Life in Britain changed in the late 19th century with inventions such as the vacuum cleanerStaubsaugervacuum cleaner or toaster. The original “automatic tea maker” was invented in 1891, at a time when tea was cheap and drunk in almost every household. What better way to start the day than with a “cuppa”?

    Word to go

    cuppa: an informal British English word for “cup of tea”.

    Early designs for an automatic tea maker were dangerous, using gas or spirithier: Alkoholspirits. But the basic concept was in place: water was heated in a container to push steam along a pipe into a teapot.

    In the 1930s, the arrival of electricity in British homes made the process simpler: an alarm clock switched on the kettle’s heating element, and a plate switchSchaltplatteplate switch activated by the weight of the water in the teapot turned it off.

    The Goblin company produced the first Teasmade, in 1936, with its art deco curves, side lights and large clock. The Teasmade reached its greatest popularity in the 1960s and 1970s — when it was at the top of many wedding-gift lists — but then fell out of fashion.

    Recently, there has been an interest in retro devices, and the bedside companionBettbegleiter(in)bedside companion loved by generations of Brits is now an object of cool.

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