This is a lovely early 19th century Continental rosewood tea chest. The top of the lid is most decorative with foliage motifs in brass and small flowers. It is edged with a fine band of decorative engraving. The top and front have brass stringing and the escutcheon has attractive brass inlay work. The sides and back are plain. The interior has three very deep blue velvet-lined compartments which hold painted porcelain canisters of a gilded old-gold colour with floral tops. The lids are beautifully decorated with figures in early costume. Two canisters have narrow necks and the decorative stoppers featuring ladies and these are for tea. The complete lid of the sugar box lifts up and has the decorative lid featuring a gentleman and has a wider neck. The narrowest part of this sugar box has an old repair (see image) and there is also a chip out of the same canister. There is an indecipherable possible artist's signature on the bottom of one of the tea canisters. The original key fits nicely in the keyhole but is not currently working. A small brass chain holds the lid open when in use. The fine brass stringing is absent in several places. There is a crack in the top front of the lid. The gilding on the canisters has areas of rubbing and the base has an original paper lining which is very worn. This tea chest has obviously been used and loved and shows signs consistent with age. Despite these deficiencies, this is a rare and most attractive piece and it is very uncommon to find a tea chest with all of its original fittings. Length 9.25 ins (24cm), width4.5 ins (11.5cm), depth 5.75 ins (15.24cm). Weight 1896 grams. This item can be seen in my book, "Antique Boxes, Inside and Out" on page 127.
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