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Antique Boxes in English Society
1760 -1900
Sewing  Boxes 
 Sewing Boxes




Fitted Chinese Export Lacquer Sewing  Box decorated with Tea Cultivation Scenes,  circa 1830.


An exceptional Chinese Export Lacquer   sewing box with carved ivory tools and a lower drawer for holding drawing and painting implements. For a slide show and more images of this wonderful box 

The black lacquer is painted with a continuous scene of the growing, gathering, and processing of tea.

 Decoration with a narrative thematic subject is much more unusual than vignettes of oriental scenes. 

 First half 19th century. 

It measures: 14" wide by 10.25 " and 7"tall (including feet). 

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This particular box is painted exceptionally well, with a robustness of line, with attention to minutiae, and with skillful use of bright gold contrasted against black expanses. 

End view showing the carrying handle and carved wooden feet.

Back view:

The figure sitting on the deck receiving the tea consignment is long nosed (European?).

The water is depicted by a diaper pattern traditional  in Chinese art.

End view showing the carrying handle and carved wooden feet.

Detail: The preparation of tea leaves. 


Detail of top: typically there signs of wear. The surround is a depiction of the strongly symbolic Chinese dragons.

The interior has a lift out tray which retains its original  sewing tools in carved ivory.

The box has a drawer in the lower part which is  fitted for painting on silk. 

The lid has yet another wonderful tea processing scene.

The box has beautiful carved ivory tools including a needle case, thread-barrels, and sewing-clamps.

Detail of sewing clamp one of the carved ivory tools retained in this box.

This box is featured in our forthcoming book on Antique Boxes

For the historical context of this box read the relevant part of Antigone's Online Antique Box Book. If you click here you will go there.

We have written a highly  illustrated book on Antique Boxes and Tea caddies  which is being  published by  Schiffer Books USA. 

  © 2002 Antigone Clarke and Joseph O'Kelly