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Tea canister and cover

Tea canister and cover

  • Place of origin:

    Staffordshire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1778-1786 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Neale & Co. (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lead-glazed earthenware, with transfer-printed decoration

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 138, The Harry and Carol Djanogly Gallery, case 9, shelf 5 []

Tea began to be imported into Britain from the middle of the 17th century but remained a luxury item until import duties were abolished in 1784.. A fashionable and social drink, during the 18th century it was prepared in front of guests. English tea drinkers differed from their Chinese counterparts by preferring to drink tea hot and with milk and sugar, the latter becoming increasingly available through West Indies sugar plantations which relied on the labour of African slaves.

The transfer-printed design on one side of the canister shows a well-dressed couple drinking tea in a garden, attended by a young black male servant, who pours hot water from a kettle into a teapot. About 10,000 Africans are estimated to have been living in 18th century England, most working as, often unpaid, domestic staff. For their affluent owners these African servants were status symbols who offered ‘exotic associations’ like the new beverage, tea.

Physical description

Tea canister in creamware (lead-glazed earthenware), transfer-printed in red enamel with a couple seated in a garden and being served tea by a black servant on one side, and with a shepherd with his flock on the other.

Place of Origin

Staffordshire (made)


ca. 1778-1786 (made)


Neale & Co. (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Lead-glazed earthenware, with transfer-printed decoration


Height: 5.125 in, Width: 3 in

Descriptive line

Tea canister and cover, probably made by Neale & Co., Staffordshire, ca. 1778-1786

Production Note

Some Neale creamwares have transfer-prints by Thomas Rothwell, who may have been the source of the prints on this canister.




Transfer printing

Subjects depicted



Ceramics; Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares; Earthenware


Ceramics Collection

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