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William IV /Victorian shaped Rosewood three compartment Tea chest circa 1835-40

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Reference: TC426

Description:
TC426:  Tea chest in highly figured rosewood of architectural form inlaid with mother of pearl
which depicts stylized flora and fauna,  the chest standing on turned rosewood feet having turned drop handles. Inside the tea chest there are two liftout hinged canisters (retaining some of their original leading) and a particularly fine cut lead crystal bowl. Circa 1835-40.

Origin: UK, possibly Scottish.

Circa: 1835-40

Size: It measures  12.8 inches wide  by 7.3 inches deep and it is  7.1inches  high including feet: 32.5 cm wide by 18.5 cm deep by 18 cm high.

Condition: Good overall working lock and key.

 

TC426:  Tea chest in highly figured rosewood of architectural form inlaid with mother of pearl which depicts stylized flora and fauna,  the chest standing on turned rosewood feet having turned drop handles. Inside the tea chest there are two liftout hinged canisters (retaining some of their original leading) and a particularly fine cut lead crystal bowl. Circa 1835-40. Enlarge Picture

 

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This particular piece is distinctive in that its inlaid decoration is very deliberately used to create a structural architectural effect.  This tea chest is actually structured to be redolent of a temple. The symmetrical mother of pearl inlay on each side of the front, tapers inwards, as if one is looking at a temple entrance and the perspective makes the top of the pillars look smaller. The inlaid lines reinforce the impression of the perpendicular diminution in width. The whole box tapers inwards and then it is crowned by what looks like an angularly constructed roof. The design is the result of a sophisticated and well informed mind, able to transfer the rules of one discipline to another, without resorting to inappropriate slavish copying.

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The shape of this tea chest combines elements and influences characteristic of the  nineteenth century. It is structured in an architectural form combining tapered  and pyramid lines which make this caddy a strong statement of the robust and elegant style of the late Regency and early Victorian. The fine inlays which depict stylized flora and fauna are in mother of pearl and contrast with the dark highly figured rosewood. The central compartment has the original heavy hand blown and cut crystal mixing bowl. The bowl sits in a specially made recess, which is faced with mitered and book matched rosewood  The drop handles are turned from solid rosewood. The inlaid escutcheon is in Mother of pearl. 

The main body of the caddy sits on a base which is edged in gadrooned rosewood. The top part is also gadrooned.  These decorative edgings were made on a lathe and attached to the box. Circa 1835-40

 

The tops canisters are inlaid with a "G" and a "B", which stand for green and bohea  or black tea. Chinese tea was basically divided between green tea and black tea See: www.gol27.com/HistoryTeaBotanics.html 

The original purpose of the bowl was for sugar and not as sometimes stated today mixing the tea. 

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The bowl sits in a central well. The framing is in bookmatched  rosewood. The well is lined  velvet which is Tyrian Purple. 

See: 
hygra.com/uk/wb2/wb136/index.htm#02
 

It was one of the most fashionable colors in the Victorian period. A synthetic dye was not developed until the begining of the 20th c.  

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  The lift out canisters retain some of their original leading

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The cut crystal bowl is also exceptional. It has curves and straight hobnail cuts. It is probably Irish and and is much the same date as the chest. 

The tax on the weight of materials used in glass manufacturing in England and Scotland did not apply in Ireland until 1825. 

This resulted in the setting up of glassworks in various port towns in Ireland such as Waterford and Cork (1783)

 

 

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 This tea chest is actually structured to be redolent of a temple. The symmetrical mother of pearl inlay on each side of the front, tapers inwards, as if one is looking at a temple entrance and the perspective makes the top of the pillars look smaller. The inlaid lines reinforce the impression of the perpendicular diminution in width. The whole box tapers inwards and then it is crowned by what looks like an angularly constructed roof. The design is the result of a sophisticated and well informed mind, able to transfer the rules of one discipline to another, without resorting to inappropriate slavish copying.

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Detail showing the drop ring handle. These are fragile(!) it is not a good idea to use them to actually carry or lift the box.

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The top is beautifully orchestrated with  a central inlaid panel of figured rosewood framed by gadrooning.

Gadrooning is made from solid rosewood. 

 

 

The fine inlays which depict stylized flora and fauna are in mother of pearl and contrast with the dark highly figured rosewood.

These motifs are sometimes associated with Scottish work: See  : Hygra: A Scottish Made Rosewood with Mother of Pearl Sewing Box.  Circa 1835.

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 The structure of this type of chest is very complex.  both the lid and body are lined. 

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 The underside of the chest is framed by a facing of mitered rosewood. The paper covering looks original

 

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All text and images and linked images are 1999-2009 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