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Antique Boxes in English Society
1760 -1900




Very Fine Rare Early 19th C. Anglo Indian Ivory and  Sadeli  Mosaic  Tea Caddy.  Circa 1830
A very fine Sadeli mosaic  parquetry  Tea Caddy from the beginning of the 19th C. 

This caddy  is in exceptionally good condition. 

Size : 12 cm wide , 12 cm deep 12.75 cm tall;  4.75 inches wide, 4.75 inches deep by 5 inches high.

The composition of the caddy is exquisite. 

Each panel is laid out to take full advantage of the contrasting colors and textures of the exotic and valuable materials.  The mosaic panels are fielded in mitered bandings of mosaic and fine contrasting lines of ivory and ebony.

Added interest is given to simple cubic form by the concave framing to the top panel. 

The mitering of the mosaic corners is exquisite. 


Ivory,  pewter,  ebony and stained ivory were cut into faceted rods which were bound together to form geometric patterns. When the glue has set, the rods were sliced in transverse sections. This gave the maker a number of angled  pieces in the original pattern. Several variations of patterns could be achieved by combining the materials and elements in different ways.

 The ivory was sometimes dyed green as here to give an extra colour and interest.


The complexity of the mosaic made from precious and difficult to work materials can be seen on magnified section on the right. 

The hexagonal pattern is only 1.25 inches high in reality. 

For the design to work the individual mosaic pieces have to be worked to a very high tolerance.

The ebony and the ivory would first be saw cut and then slowly scraped to their final profile. This process is very wasteful which gives an indication of how valued Sadeli  work was.


The caddy opens to a single lidded compartment. 

The inside of the lid is lined in red velvet. 

The caddy has a working lock and key.

The inside of the caddy is lined with what looks like zinc sheeting. This is stained and corroded as would be expected. The facings are ebony.

We are preparing a highly illustrated book on Antique Boxes and Tea caddies for publication next year by Schiffer Books USA. This box has been specially photographed for inclusion.

.For the historical context of this tea caddy read the relevant part of Antigone's Online Antique Box Book. If you click here you will go there.
  © 2000 Antigone Clarke and Joseph O'Kelly