From Georgian and through Victorian times, wood boxes and caddies appeared everywhere in the traditional English country or town house. They were made to take care of every type of manufactured or hand-made small household article. Some of the more popular forms included work boxes, tea caddies and stationary boxes. Good houses would not be complete without these pieces that were both functional and decorative.
The body of this pretty caddy is made from sought-after burr yew of a very dark, rich color and beautiful patination. This two-division tea caddy has the added bonus of having the contents of the box named on a plaque on top in bold fancy letters. There is a decorative cross band with marquetry inlay, comprised of several rare woods and light-catching mother-of-pearl, surrounds the central ebony cartouche on the top. Inside the cartouche are fancy block letters with the word, “TEA”. Within the cross banding there is much detail attributed to careful etching. The maker has also placed a strip of mother-of-pearl pieces along with ebony blocks on the beveled edge for added decoration. The lock escutcheon is ebony, but there is no key.
The inside has two divisions for the tea with well-fitting maple tops. There are turned ebony knobs for lifting them. The hinges are original and operate very well.
This Victorian, circa 1890 tea caddy is in excellent condition, especially for its age and type. At one time, some green felt was applied to the bottom to prevent scratching on fine tables and sideboards.
This is an exceptionally handsome example, not only of the art of making tea caddies, but also the art of marquetry inlay with mother-of-pearl.
It measures 7-1/4 inches wide, 5-1/4 inches deep and 4-1/4 inches high.
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