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A collector’s perfect cup of tea

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Samovars, invariably featuring beautiful workmanship, are metal containers used to heat and boil water in Russia, typically for tea.

A late 19th century Russian samovar, that belonged to acclaimed South African artist and sculptor Moses Kottler, is among the lots for the Stellenbosch Fine Art and Antique Auctioneers auction at Melkbosstrand on September 22.

The metal urn-shaped containers have metal pipes running vertically through the middle. In days gone by, the pipe was filled with pine cones, charcoal or wood chips, which were set alight to boil the water.

Modern factories in Russia and Europe today produce both “antique” and electric samovars with the traditional models mostly sold as souvenirs. Electric samovars use a heating element instead of the fuel pipe.

The biggest working samovar in the world, which is on display in Perm, Russia, has a capacity of 555 litres of water and can provide tea for 2220 people at a time. It is 2.5m high and is entered in the Russian Book of Records.

The Kottler decorative samovar to be auctioned on September 22 has a top pre-sale estimate of up to R8000.

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