Penwork Penwork and painted caddies from this period reflect very strongly the often conflicting influences of the period, which gave it its particular vibrancy and charm. Superior carved feet with dragon heads or Chinese dog heads are also found. The website is primarily maintained as an information source on antique boxes and caddies. The quality of this marquetry varies a great deal, although the positioning of the inlay, either as two perpendicular strips or a surround makes for a sameness of effect. They are made of the old Clay type of material and they are small single containers.
They came in all the shapes already mentioned but with very elaborate decoration in mosaic marquetry. Circa 1840 1848 saw the first influx of French craftsmen who fled France because of political troubles. Although there are earlier references of its use by traders in China, it was not until 1657 that we have the first account of its sale in England. Paterae, stylised flowers, festoons of flora, urns. The shape of the caddies was often enhanced by standing them on turned wooden feet or on feet made of brass, sometimes gilded. Caution must be taken to ascertain the age of the surface.
As this is the first time that the glass bowl is mentioned I would like to note the two theories regarding its use: One that it was used for sugar and the other for mixing the blend of tea. We will conclude with Chinese export caddies, because they are indisputably the soul of the whole tea trade. In came decoration that stimulated the imagination and dazzled the eye. The picture on the right shows an example of inlay directly into the top of the caddy. The triple size usually had two compartments for tea and one for a sugar bowl, though occasionally there were three tea compartments, presumably because the owners were protesting the use of slaves in the production of sugar and were thus boycotting sugar. Carved decoration was used on only a very few caddies. Betjemann and Lund produced superb caddies, along with many other luxurious forms for the newly wealthy.
Throughout the 19th century tea caddy design evolved to reflect the changing tastes and attitudes of the era. It was still symmetrically arranged and very controlled, but the motifs were more in the nature of native leaves and flowers. Tea caddies to house everybody's tea were by now in even greater demand. In England, Chinoiserie was the most popular theme, followed by naturalistic and neo-Classical designs. Caution, there are many fakes. Sometimes they were in the form of clustered formal flowers.
These were turned rather crudely and it makes me wonder how many were made by grandfather when the family apple tree was felled. . In caddies made of horn, the sarcophagus theme has the dimension of texture and depth given by lids constructed in reeded and radiating pieces of horn. Although this is not historically strictly correct, the Regency dates are 1811-20, there is some justification in the description. The technique and decoration were probably influenced by Anglo-Indian work, which was introduced in the mid-18th century. In the first decade of the nineteenth century mahogany veneers were most widely used.
The inner compartment lids are in plainer mahogany, bowl c 1825. This gave rise to the all wooden caddy with a wooden interior. What I will deal with are the box shaped wooden caddies and the wooden caddies veneered in tortoiseshell, ivory, horn, straw-work and sadeli mosaic. Shapes are similar to other caddies of the period with the exception that the nature of the decoration precludes extreme bombe or concave shapes. Containers of the precious tea leaves were objects of pride.
By the 1840s shapes become fussier, such as serpentine or combinations of curves and flat surfaces. The price came down, tea consumption increased as did the demand for more caddies. A more successful style import was the combination of brass and mother of pearl inlay. There is an on line version on their website. They were splendidly decorated and their impressive shapes were usually rounded.
Sometimes the interior may look old, but the exterior has been re-veneered or enhanced. Escutcheons are inlaid ivory, bone or boxwood. I find this idea appealing because it gives collecting quirky angle. The look is more restrained. We value and try to preserve original finishes and condition. Exceptionally well figured mahogany tea caddy with decoration in brass.