ANTIQUE BOXES
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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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Rare 18th Century walnut Tea Chest Fitted with a Secret Compartment, Circa 1780. 

A late 18th century walnut veneered tea chest fitted with three lift out tin plated canisters and having a secret compartment with a drawer. Circa 1780.

Although of traditional form this chest has many unusual features mark it out as special and rare. 

The secret drawer is accessed by sliding up one of the sides.

The central panels of well figured walnut are fielded by an inlay with a chequer design framed by a cross banding of further walnut.

For the most part the chest carcass-work is made with quartered oak. The molding surrounding the chest is the traditional "caddy molding". 

The whole piece is particularly finely made and is in very good original condition

 

 18th Century walnut Tea Chest Fitted with a Secret Compartment, Circa 1780. tcchsd01.jpg (98595 bytes) 

The chest has a central brass handle and brass escutcheon.

The chest is stamped twice to the underside with "HP" 

The chest has a working lock and key.

It measures  10.25 inches wide  by  6 inches deep and it is  4.25 inches  high including feet: 26cm wide by 15cm deep by 16cm high.

To enlarge the pictures please click on them.

High resolution images are available.

 

 18th Century walnut Tea Chest Fitted with a Secret Compartment, Circa 1780. tcchsd02.jpg (48665 bytes)

All sides and the top have a central piece of beautifully figured walnut framed with a chequer inlay and cross banded with walnut.

 

18th Century walnut Tea Chest Fitted with a Secret Compartment, Circa 1780. tcchsd03.jpg (62279 bytes)

The canisters are made of tinned ferrous metal which is soldered at the joints and tinned. Often these canisters are lost. Here they have developed a gentle grey glow. 
Detail: The central panel of well figured walnut is fielded by an inlay with a chequer design framed by a cross banding of further walnut. 

This type of bead  molding is traditional as an edge treatment  and is called a "caddy molding" even when it appears on other types of work.

18th Century walnut Tea Chest Fitted with a Secret Compartment, Circa 1780. tcchsd04.jpg (54704 bytes)

18th Century walnut Tea Chest Fitted with a Secret Compartment, Circa 1780. tcchsd07.jpg (77704 bytes)

The chest has a central brass handle which retains a little gilding to the plates. The marks made by the handle are clearly visible. 

 18th Century walnut Tea Chest Fitted with a Secret Compartment, Circa 1780. tcchsd05.jpg (44891 bytes)
The inside of the lid is lined with red leather. 
 

The chest is stamped twice to the underside with "HP" This may be a makers mark. Various furniture makers with the initials "HP" are recorded as working in the late 18th C. 

Included are 

Henry Parry: London. Brackby Street, Golden Lane  is recorded in 1779 as taking out insurance cover of 100 of which 20 was for utensils and stock.

Henry Pater jnr: Bath. Upholder recorded at Wine Street (1793-94), 4 Bath Street, Temple Street (1794) and Corn Street (1795).

Hopkin Powell: Bristol. 24 Castle Green, (1775)

Courtesy Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840. Furniture History Society, ISBN 0901286184.

If you have  any further information which would enable this chest to be given an firmer attribution or if there are any other examples of the HP mark known we would be grateful if you would let us know.  

18th Century walnut Tea Chest Fitted with a Secret Compartment, Circa 1780. tcchsd06.jpg (81863 bytes)

18th Century walnut Tea Chest Fitted with a Secret Compartment, Circa 1780. tcchsd08.jpg (64548 bytes)

The central panel of well figured walnut is fielded by an inlay with a chequer design framed by a cross banding of further walnut.

The escutcheon is brass. The chest has a working lock and key.

18th Century walnut Tea Chest Fitted with a Secret Compartment, Circa 1780. tcchsd09.jpg (61971 bytes)

18th Century walnut Tea Chest Fitted with a Secret Compartment, Circa 1780. tcchsd11.jpg (45226 bytes)

The side slides up revealing a secret compartment which has a drawer.

The woodwork is impeccable 

The chest carcasswork is mainly made with quartered oak. 

The panel slides out. At one time in its life it appears to have been nailed in place! The evidence of the  old nail holes is visible. 

18th Century walnut Tea Chest Fitted with a Secret Compartment, Circa 1780. tcchsd10.jpg (70343 bytes)

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.  

  © 2004 Antigone Clarke and Joseph O'Kelly