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


A Very Rare early 19th century Tunbridge Ware Tea Caddy
A very rare early 19th Century shaped Tunbridgeware three compartment tea caddy standing on turned feet. 

All the sides have the distinctive and striking parquetry in Van Dyke patern of exotic native and imported hardwoods framed with highly figured Brazilian Rosewood and cross banded with kingwood.

The top has a parquetry in dramatic almost three dimensional cube patern

This is an exceptional example of a very important group of tea caddies produced in the first three decades of the 19th century. are of course the Tunbridge Ware boxes. 

The shape is similar to other caddies of the period with the exception that the nature of the decoration precludes extreme bombe or concave shapes. 

In the first thirty years of the 19th century, Tunbridgeware caddies were usually made in rosewood veneer with Van Dyke (elongated triangles) and cube pattern parquetry decoration. 

The earliest ones, like this, do not include mosaic inlays.The mosaic first the 1830s mostly as borders. In the 1830s and 40s the early patterns were combined with Berlin woolwork designs in mosaic marquetry. Turned feet were usual, but not handles, which would interfere with the decoration which, continued on all sides.

The caddy is in very good original condition and has a working lock with key. 

The central compartment has the original heavy hand blown crystal mixing bowl (see below). The bowl sits in a specially made recess, which is faced with mitered and book matched rosewood banded with boxwood. The well is still lined with the original beize.

The bowl like the caddy is in the typical George III classical form. This is enhanced with subtle and exquisite cutting. 

This bowl is the original heavy hand blown 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