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


Tea Caddies and Tea


A Very Fine Inlaid Two Compartment Tea Caddy circa 1790 
 A very fine Georgian Tea Caddy veneered in mahogany. The top has a fielded panel cross banded with darker mahogany and edged in boxwood. It is inlaid with an oval design of the Prince of Wales feathers. The front has a geometric inlay in rosewood.

The caddy is 7.75 inches wide 4.5 deep and 4.5 tall.

The caddy is in very good original condition and has a working lock with key.

The inside has two lidded compartments. The lids are inlaid with boxwood which continues the theme of the top panel.

The facings are in alternative light boxwood and dark wood. When closed two thin lines show on the outside. This is an elegant solution which avoids the opening showing a predominant line and gives interest when the caddy is open. 

 The inside of the compartments is lined with grey blue paper which is 19th century. The lids are not lined. The inside of the lid is lined in original pink paper.

It is very likely the bottom part of the box was cleaned out and relined some decades after it was first made. 

 The top of the box has faded to a beatiful mellow patina with a warm glow. It still retains its wax finish. 
 Detail of the inlay. NOTE the background natural green of the inlay, which is both uneven and faded to a subtle brown-green. This is how genuine inlays from the 18th century look. Note also the light and shade on the design which was done by dipping the wood elements in hot sand or lead. The caddy has escaped inappropriate sanding and refinishing and the inlay retains the tiny unevenesses of a genuine antique.
These inlaid Georgian caddies are often faked or ruined by refinishing. This enlargment is a good example of a genuine inlay. Note the colours. The green would only be bright on the inside of a box if it had had no exposure to light. Even then it would be uneven. It would not look as if it has just been stained.

I have posted further information on Fakes and Abuses on the web. 

 Front view showing the inlay and the contrasting lines where the box closes. The escutcheon is in an inverted tear drop shape typical of the period.
The edgings in boxwood and dark wood continue on all sides.

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