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A late 18th century rolled paper tea caddy with colored prints of classical inspiration

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Reference: TC 110.

Description:
A late 18th century rolled paper  tea caddy the framed panels of  filigree spaced ornament on a background of mica flakes and having colored prints of classical inspiration under glass. The caddy is framed with fruitwood inlaid with a chevron of dark and light wood.

Origin: United Kingdom.

Circa: 1800.

Materials:  Rolled paper decorating on a pine ground with fruitwood. 

Size: It measures 6.7 inches wide  by  3.7inches deep and it is  inches 6  high: 170cm wide by 96cm deep by 130cm high.

Condition: good over all, no restorations.

 

A late 18th century rolled paper  tea caddy the framed panels of  filigree spaced ornament on a background of mica flakes and having colored prints of classical inspiration under glass. The caddy is framed with fruitwood inlaid with a chevron of dark and light wood. Enlarge Picture

This caddy is featured at figure 118 of our book
Antique Boxes, Tea Caddies, and Society,
1700--1880 
Antigone Clarke & Joseph O'Kelly,
ISBN: 0764316885

see also: Rolled Paper Tea Caddy 

 

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Filigree work was seen as a  particular accomplishment  for young ladies of the early 19th c and was was also taught at art school art classes.  Trade cards of the period mention the supply of cases for filigree work to boarding schools.

 In 1791, a royal tradesman, Charles Elliott, supplied Princess Elizabeth, with "15 ounces of different filigree paper, one ounce of gold paper, and a box made for filigree work with ebony moldings, lock and key, lined inside and outside and also a tea cadde to correspond with box".

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Filigree boxes were also offered for sale  by professionals. A correspondent in the New Ladies' Magazine recommended a Londonshop, in fashionable Mount Street, where such work was on display. Very likely the work was done by talented genteel ladies, who had fallen on hard times. In the 1793 Cabinet Makers' London Book of Prices, the price of the work is described as follows: "if any of these caddies are made for fillagree to be the same (price) as veneer'd".

 

In Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen refers to rolled paper work work:   Elinor offers to help Lucy Steel to roll papers for decorating a basket Lucy is making for the daughter of their hostess. Although the novel was started in the last years of the 18th century, it was not published until 1811. It is of course impossible to know when the author composed this particular scene. 

A few filigree caddies were also made by Napoleonic prisoners of war. These are indistinguishable from English work. There are records and surviving examples of the work created by the prisoners of war who were more famous for their straw work and bone work at Norman Cross. See: www.normancrossgallery.com
/history/index.html
 

 

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The caddy is on a pine body. The grain pattern of the top, with the parallel lines formed by winter and summer growth,  indicates that  the wood is cut on the quarter. Quartered wood is particularly stable.

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The colors of the rolled papers have by now faded and the gilding on the gold rubbed off. Expecting to find "pristine" examples is unrealistic. 

The often practiced replacement and re-gilding of the papers frequently results in garish and artificially glossy creations, which are neither original, nor honest reproductions.

This caddy has survived without the indignity of such restorations.

The Dutch drop handle still retains some of its original gilding.

 

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 Detail: A hand colored print of  cittern player. The cittern was popular from the 17th C. At the date of the caddy it the instrument was called "an English guitar". It was a popular an instrument especially for lady amateur players.

In his book The World of Baroque & Classical Musical instruments,  Jeremy Montagu recounts a story that it became so popular that it was seen as a threat to harpsichord manufacture: "Too many people were selling their harpsichords and buying English guitars instead... Kirkman [ a well known harpsichord manufacturer] hit upon the solution --- he gave away a quantity of English Guitars to seamstresses, ladies who combined their skill at sewing with a rather older profession, with the result that respectable ladies of fashion immediately discarded their guitars and returned to the the harpsichord."

 

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 There are traces of the original leading on the pine body work of the caddy. The hinges look undisturbed since the day the caddy was made.

 

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 The caddy retains its original lock.

 

 

 

All text and images and linked images are 1999-2006 Antigone Clarke and Joseph O'Kelly. If you require any further information on permitted use, or a licence to republish any material, email us at copyright@hygra.com