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Tea and Opium

 

 

An 18th century tea caddy decorated with straw work.

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Reference: TC571

Description:
TC571: Rare straw work tea caddy from the second half of the 18th Century. Inside there is one compartment lined with foil paper and a supplementary lid also with straw marquetry.

Origin:  UK. Circa:  1780; Materials: straw work marquetry on a pine carcass.

Size: It measures 5.9  inches wide  by 4.1 inches deep and it is 3.5 inches  high including feet: 15 cm wide by 10.4 cm deep by 8.9 cm high.

Condition: good overall, but some losses.  working lock and key,  see images.
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This caddy is illustrated in our book. The floral motif, as well as the swirling treatment of the surrounding foliage, are characteristic of continental work. 6" wide. Second half 18th century.

See: Antique Boxes, Tea Caddies, and Society, 1700--1880 
Antigone Clarke & Joseph O'Kelly,
ISBN: 0764316885

On account of the fragile nature of the material it is unreasonable to expect to find these boxes in perfect condition.

"Straw marquetry is usually referred to as Napoleonic prisoner of war work. The reason for this is that most pieces available today, were made in England in prisoner of war camps and prison ships between 1793 and 1815. Dartmoor and Norman Cross were two of the chief centers, but such prisons were scattered throughout England with some of the work dating back to 1756.

"Considering the living conditions in such camps and ship hulks, this extraordinarily beautiful work is a celebration of the human spirit over adversity. The technical expertise and the design sense displayed on many pieces are remarkable. Furthermore the sensitivity of composition, color, and use of material on the best work is breathtaking. The humble materials in the hands of people brought low by circumstances were transformed into treasures reflecting a world of imagination and culture. It is as if the prisoners' intellect soared while their bodies were confined."

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Inside the caddy retains much of its original lining foil paper lining. 

 

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The lid is also decorated with a swirling design in straw.

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Back view, showing the continuing design of symmetrical swirly patterns and cartouches with depictions of small flowers mostly pansies. Pansies are symbols of remembrance, from the French pensee, to think. 

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Detail of top showing the clever use of the straw in different directions to achieve variant light values.

 

The front. The rosebuds are delicately executed with this fragile material.

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The side view with a different motif.

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The other side.

 

 The bottom of the caddy is covered with marbled paper. 

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All text and images and linked images are 1999-2011 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