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

Tea Caddies and Tea


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A superb example of an exceptionally fine George III three compartment tea caddy in exotic partridgewood edged with fine lines of boxwood and ebony and a cross banding of kingwood circa 1790.
Partridge wood is so called because the grain pattern resembles the plumage of a partridge. It was a rare exotic wood imported from Tropical America in the late 18th century and only used in the finest work. The top of the caddy has a centrally placed gilded brass carrying handle. The gilding is hardly worn. The pattern of the handle is in stylised foliage and the loop continues this motive.
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 flame figured mahogany with an oval of boxwood inlaid in the Sheraton manner.

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 partridgewood banded with boxwood. The well is still lined with the original green baize, which shows the sort of wear one would expect.

The facings on the top are in dark wood whereas the facings of the body are in maple. 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 partridgewood lids. These are edged in boxwood. The grain pattern on these is the same as the outside of the caddy but smaller, which is more suitable for the size of the canisters. This is yet another example of the care and flair of the craftsman who made this fine caddy

The grain pattern of the canisters is the same as the outside of the caddy but the flecks are smaller, and more suitable for the size of the canisters.

This is yet another example of the care and flair of the craftsman who made this fine caddy

The canisters are edged with boxwood.

The top of the caddy has a centrally placed gilded brass carrying handle. The gilding is hardly worn. The pattern of the handle is in stylised foliage and the loop continues this motive. This is the original embossed handle made by impression and not a modern cast brass copy used as a replacement
Detail of corner showing the exotic partridgewood edged with fine lines of boxwood and ebony and a cross banding of kingwood. Partridge wood is so called because the grain pattern resembles the plumage of a partridge. It was a rare exotic wood imported from tropical America in the late 18th century and only used in the finest work.
The central compartment has a blown crystal mixing bowl with pontil mark, which has been enhanced with fine wheel engraving. The bowl sits in a specially made recess, which is faced with mitered and book matched partridgewood. The well is still lined with the original green baize.

The lead lining of the canisters is nearly intact. This was probably replaced in the mid 19th century. 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.

The back and sides of the caddy has the same beautifully figured partridgewood. The area nearest the bottom on the back is a lighter colour than the rest, as can be seen in this picture.
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 dark ebony whereas the facings of the body are in maple.

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 well for the canister is lined with maple edged with ebony which has been rounded to a bead.

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

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