the tea caddy evolved from a silver, brass or porcelain canister to a finely crafted wooden cabinet. these historic wooden caddies were used from the mid 18th century to the late 19th century. the lady of the house kept the key and ceremoniously spooned the tea leaves to the mixing bowl or infusion pot using a caddy spoon.
we have provided a sampling of tea caddies from our private collection. please click on the picture to enlarge the photo's. the caddy at the top of this page, was our first tea caddy purchase. it has missing pieces of mother-of- pearl, however, it retains a special place in our collection...the original mixing bowl is a wonderful match to the mother-of-pearl inlay, in the shape of a fern.
this extraordinary caddy is from the 1825 to 1830 range and is an exceptionally large caddy, measuring about 17 inches in width and 11 inches high. the caddy is of rich figured, thick flame mahogany veneer, with heavy gadrooning to the panels of the front, side, top and inside. the multi layer look of the panels, gives the caddy a substantial look of strength. the drop loop handles are ebony. the interior of the caddy is lined with mahogany and has two lift out boxes. the cut crystal bowl is thought to be the original. the last picture on the right, shows a georgian period caddy in front of this large caddy...note the difference in the height of the two caddies.
this complex caddy (on the left) from the 1825 to 1830's shows an example of a concave shape that was a variation on the standard sarcophagus shape. it has a rich mahogany veneer that accents it dramatic shape. the center caddy, is another example of the chippendale style of the mid 1700's with the intact bracket feet. the caddy on the right is yet another example of the chippendale look of the same period....unfortunately, someone tried to refinish the caddy and has stripped it of the original patina. it is better to leave the caddies in their "found condition" and not try to refinish them...repairs only as needed.
an example of a georgian caddy in mahogany with a detail of greek key. this caddy dates from the late 1780's. it is rare, indeed, to have a matching bowl, tea caddy and caddy spoon, all bearing the greek key design. the tea tile on the stand is an actual compressed tile of black tea. the tile, or "brick" if divided, was used not only as barter or method of payment.... but also used in the preparation of tea in the home. by scraping small amounts of the tea into a pot...it would last for many months. it is thought that tea tiles were actually what the patriot's threw over the side...at the boston tea party.
below, are four examples of the georgian period caddies, in the 1770 time frame. they all have the interior tinned, metal boxes. several of our caddies also have secret compartments. the secret compartments are found by gently lifting the right side wall of the caddy and raising it about two inches. this often allows a small drawer to be pulled out, to store a caddy spoon or other valuable items. the metal boxes are often missing from the caddies of this time period. some of the caddies have a simple base, however, it was more correct for them to have bracket feet, often these bracket feet have been removed. this style is referred to as "the chippendale" look and most have straight sides and a concave stepped lid as seen in the first caddy.
this brazilian rosewood caddy is a classic example of elegance from the regency 1825 period. the contrasting dark and light variations of the wood and the concave and pyramid lines give it a striking look. it has turned and carved solid rosewood feet, the handles are also carved from solid rosewood. the heavy gadrooning on the body and lid, give the caddy a look of strong quality. there are two solid rosewood lift out boxes (caddies) in the interior. the interior bowl does not appear to be original, however, it is an excellent match for the overall look. the solid brass escutcheon gives a wonderful contrast to the prized rosewood veneer. it is truly one of my favorite caddies.
the lovely rosewood caddy, on the left, has a burl wood look and double lids inside. an early pewter chinese caddy, with an inner lid, sits on top of the rosewood caddy. the picture on the right shows another caddy from the mid 1700's in the georgian chippendale look. the caddy is sitting on top of a ladies writing slope of a later period.
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this rosewood caddy has fine mother-of-pearl detail, with a glass mixing bowl and two interior caddies that can be removed. the mother-of-pearl is all intact and the detail is a lovely contrast to the rosewood body.
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the mahogany tea caddy shown below is unusual, in that it is in the style of a military campaign chest. the brass corner pieces and the brass plate on the top are very much in the design of campaign furniture for that period. the interior of the caddy shows detailed scallope trim and ivory handles. by removing the right side tea container...you see four hidden drawers. they are quite small and i'm not sure what the intended hidden drawers. they are quite small and i'm not sure what the intended use would have been in their design.
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