Prior to 1900, American women artisans engaged
primarily in the crafts of needlework and weaving, which were considered appropriate to the female constitution. In the nineteenth century, women were generally regarded as frail and delicate and therefore unsuited to work with physically demanding materials such as metal. Along with crafts-makers Jane Carson Barron and Francis Barnum Smith, Mildred G. Watkins broke out of this nineteenth-century mold by becoming a silversmith and thus pioneering women’s participation in a craft previously reserved
for men. Watkins’ creation of this silver teapot was an assertion
of women’s rights and capabilities in its questioning
of male dominance in the silversmith profession.