Early 19th Century English Walnut Double Tea Caddy
This is a beautiful early 19th Century tea caddy. This caddy or tea holder is made of contrasting inlaid timbers. The tea caddy is made of solid walnut, with a lighter walnut and darker wood used for the inlay stringing on the front and the lid of the caddy. There is an oval shaped inlay at the key hole, and the key is included with the caddy.
The word caddy is from a Malay/Chinese word 'Kati'. A 'Kati' is a measured quantity of tea. According to G. Cummins' book, Antique Boxes, Inside and Out, 75 katis is equal to 100 lbs. of tea. One kati would weigh about 1 1/3 lbs. of tea. In fact, at the end of the 18th century, tea caddies were constructed to hold 1 1/3 lbs of tea. Later, the word caddy became more generic as boxes appeared in many shapes and sizes.
Opening this tea caddy (there is a metal handle on the lid) reveals double compartments for the storage of tea, each of which is lidded. A small pull tab is used to lift the lids. With two compartments different varieties of tea could be stored. The inside of each compartment is lined with a silver like paper. The silver like paper also covers the underside of the caddy's lid. Some of the paper has been removed from the underside, perhaps to attach a new handle.
The tea caddy measures 8 7/8 inches wide, 4 3/4 inches deep, and 4 1/2 inches high.
This is an excellent example of an early tea caddy, and the craftsmanship of these box makers.