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Antique Boxes in English Society
1760 -1900
Tea Caddies and Tea
Tea Caddies and Tea



A  fine George III three compartment tea caddy in mahogany edged with fine lines of boxwood and ebony and a mosaic inlay Circa 1790. 
A fine mahogany George III three compartment tea caddy inlaid with mosaic purfling edged with ebony and having a Sheffield plate handle.

This caddy was made in England Circa 1790.

Inside are three compartments containing a central original cut glass bowl and two lift out lidded mahogany  tea canisters.

For the historical context of this caddy follow the link to The Online Box Book 

 The top of the caddy has a centrally placed Sheffield plate  carrying handle. 
The caddy is in very good original condition and has a working lock with key.   It   has   not  been refinished. 

The inside of the lid is lined with paper edged with inlay lines and a cross binding of kingwood. This is the same banding used around the lids of the canisters

The central compartment has the original heavy hand cut and blown crystal mixing bowl (see below). The bowl sits in a specially made recess, which is faced with mitred and book matched mahogany banded with inlay. The well is  lined with red velvet.

The facings on the top are in light coloured wood whereas the facings of the body are dark. This use of contrasting woods is a feature in good early boxes; it avoids the opening being over visible when the caddy is closed and adds interest when open. 

The central compartment is flanked by two lift out mahogany tea canisters with hinged  These are edged in ebony. 

The centrally placed Sheffield plate handle has left a mark on the mahogany. This is to be expected and is a sign that this is an original 18th C caddy
Close up detail of the fine multicoloured inlay bands which surround this caddy
The lead lining of the canisters is nearly intact shows the sort of deterioration which would be expected in an 18th C caddy. One has been relined with tin foil in recent times.  The original wood with remnants of the 18th C lead is visible underneath. 

A lead liner was used to maintain the moisture or humidity in the tea.

In this detail photograph of a inside corner of the body of the caddy the quality of the work is clearly visible. The facings on the top are in maple whereas the facings of the body are in  dark ebony.

This is a feature in good early boxes. It adds interest when the caddy is open and elegantly avoids the opening being over visible when the caddy is closed 

The wells for the canisters are lined with mahogany edged with maple  which has been rounded to a bead.
The bowl like the caddy is in the typical George III classical form. 

This bowl is the original heavy hand blown cut crystal mixing bowl with pontil mark. 

A pontil mark is the slight scar on the bottom of the bowl left after detaching it from the pontil. The pontil is an iron rod used in glass-making. The presence of the pontil mark shows that it is hand blown glass. Some people call it a punty mark.

For the historical context of this caddy read the relevant part of Antigone's Online Antique Box Book. If you click here you will go there.

  © 1999 Antigone Clarke and Joseph O'Kelly