To counter faltering sales during the Great Depression, more adventurous manufacturers began to employ outside design consultants and invest in materials research. In the 1800s the Wagner Manufacturing Company had built a reputation for traditional cast-iron cookware, but in the early 1930s it introduced Magnalite, a patented magnesium/aluminum alloy. Rideout, one of a new generation of American industrial designers, was brought in to rework the appearance of the company's housewares, including this teakettle. His efforts, however, were focused on aesthetics more than functionality: the kettle's lid is semipermanently attached and may only be removed by first detaching the handle with a screwdriver.
Gallery label from Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen, September 15, 2010-March 14, 2011.