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



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Mahogany Tea Caddy with Conch Shell inlays Circa 1790
An exceptional good  example of a 18th Century mahogany veneered tea caddy with  robust and detailed conch shell inlays. 

This is a  typical design of the last decade of the 18th century although the treatment here with the background of oak leaves is extremely unusual. 

The shell is reminiscent of Britania's then rule of the waves. The oak of strength and stability.

The design is sharply defined and subtly shaded with the hot sand technique on a background of green

This caddy measures 8.7 inches  wide by 5 inches deep by 5  inches high; 22cm wide by 13cm deep by 13cm high.

Please click on the images to enlarge them.

 Mahogany Tea Caddy with Conch Shell inlays Circa 1790 tcmashells01.jpg (59934 bytes)
 Mahogany Tea Caddy with Conch Shell inlays Circa 1790 tcmashells02.jpg (68641 bytes)

The inside retains significant traces of the original lining. 

The pyramided inner lids would have sat on top of the tea.

The facings are in contrasting light and dark wood giving pleasing thin defining lines when the caddy is shut and extra interest when open.

The inlaid shells  are shaded with the hot sand    method which darkens the light wood without the need of stain. This gives a more natural and subtle result.  

The detailed cutting of the patterns makes this an excellent example of such marquetry.


Having them on the inside is an added treat. 


 Mahogany Tea Caddy with Conch Shell inlays Circa 1790 tcmashells03.jpg (93422 bytes)
Mahogany Tea Caddy with Conch Shell inlays Circa 1790 tcmashells04.jpg (99721 bytes)

 The shells on the front and top are  are given an extra dimension by being on an oak leaf background. 

There is also a very subtle edge inlay to the bottom which defines the form

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 has been published by Schiffer Books USA. 

  © 2004 Antigone Clarke and Joseph O'Kelly