I remember the day I saw it at a local thrift store. It was last summer at the height of my collecting spree for my new business, Southern Vintage Table. As I was browsing the items on the shelf, I spied this unusual coffee urn, or at least that’s what I thought it was. The shape, handles and spigot were all so magnificent. As I opened the top and looked inside, I couldn’t figure out how the coffee was added and the bowl on the top really stumped me. Surely, I thought, there must be missing pieces. Relunctantly, I decided not to purchase a broken coffee pot and left the store.
About an hour later, as I am standing in another thrift store, I felt a sharp twinge of regret. I knew I would never see anything like that coffee pot again. A seasoned thrift store shopper knows that if something interests you, you better pick it up right then or it will be gone. I decided to go back to get it before it was too late. As I excitedly opened the door to the store, my heart sank. I saw a woman pick up my coffee pot.
As I am kicking myself, I noticed she didn’t immediately go up to the sales counter. Something told me to wait around – to see if she actually will buy it. So, there I was – thrift store stalking. While keeping a good distance away, I tracked her, waiting to see if she was going to put it back on the shelf or go through the door with it. I realized she was trying to decide what to do.
Finally, she went up to the cash register. I moved closer, picked up something off the shelf nearby and tried to look uninterested. She put the urn on the counter and asked the cashier, “How much?” And then it happened – a thrift shop miracle. “That’s too much,” she complained. She then put it back on the counter and walked out. I almost couldn’t believe it! As soon as the door closed behind her, I picked it up. I remember telling the young cashier, “It’s not too much for me,” and the strange coffee pot was mine.
It wasn’t too hard to uncover that this coffee urn is actually a samovar, a Russian hot water kettle, and it’s used to heat water for tea. The top bowl holds a smaller pot of tea concentrate that is heated through the vents in the lid of the larger vessel. With “1990” engraved on the bottom, it’s not really old but the look is definitely vintage. Here’s one site I found that gives a nice synopsis of the history of the samovar.
This samovar traveled to Wilmington this past weekend for Joey and Rebekah’s tea bar at their wedding reception. Doesn’t it look terrific with the vintage cupboard and teacups? This gorgeous vintage-inpsired wedding will be featured in an upcoming blog. PS – I have to thank friends, Louise, Mary and Jami, for helping set up the reception tables and again to Mary and Louise for washing and packing until the wee hours of the morning. I am truly blessed with the miracle of friendship!
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