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



Chinese Export Lacquer Tea Caddy with Gold Decoration Circa 1825.
Tea caddy in Chinese lacquer in  good original condition.  The lacquer is decorated with  gold in two colors.    

The  decoration  is of very  fine quality depicting "The Romance of the Three Kingdoms" and  the  shape of the caddy is exceptionally  good.  

The interior is empty.

Chinese made for export to England circa 1825 .

Dimensions: 7" wide 4.75 "deep 3.75"  tall.

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The theme of the decoration on this caddy is exceptional in that it is rooted deeply in Chinese tradition. It depicts scenes from the historical epic "The Romance of the Three Kingdoms". This story, based on real events of the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, was passed on from generation to generation in oral tradition, until the 14th century when it was published in the form of a novel. It tells of the struggle for absolute power between the rulers of three kingdoms and their legendary generals.

Woodblock illustrations of such events are found on early woodcuts which accompanied Chinese editions of the story. They are rare in export work. 

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The top shows some rubbing consistent with the age of the box. 

The interior is also decorated on the facings and the inside of the lid in fine gold stylized foliage.  db3007.jpg (144805 bytes)
 Detail of the lid decoration. The gold strokes on the grasses are wonderfully delicate.  db3008.jpg (161749 bytes)
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Detail of warriors. The Chinese writing on the pennant denotes one of the kingdoms.

The diaper patterns denoting earth are very much within Chinese decorative tradition.

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.
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