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Tea caddy

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1790 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Veneered in satinwood and other woods, with painted decoration

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Thomas Sutton, Esq., in memory of his wife

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Tea-drinking, introduced into Britain in the late 17th century, became widespread during the 18th century. Tea leaves were expensive, so were usually stored in lockable containers. Early tea containers were referred to as canisters, kept in locked boxes known as tea chests. Smaller wooden boxes with one or two fixed inner compartments for loose tea became popular from about 1780 onwards and by 1800 were generally known as tea caddies. The word 'caddy' is thought to derive from the Malay word for a measure of weight (kati) equivalent to about half a kilogram. Since tea caddies were placed on the table as tea was served, they were often highly decorative. A great variety of wooden caddies were made between 1780 and 1810 as tea became cheaper and more widely used. A. Hepplewhite & Co. published designs for both ‘tea caddies’ and ‘tea chests’, which were usually larger, in The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide, 1788 (2nd edition 1789, 3rd Edition 1794). This caddy has painted fluting and floral sprays within borders of inlaid wood and has one compartment inside.

Physical description

Octagonal tea caddy, veneered in satinwood and other woods, the lid decorated with an oval containing two carnations surrounded by a scrolling stem, and and the sides with marquetry ovals and imitation fluting. The front is painted with a floral spray.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


ca. 1790 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Veneered in satinwood and other woods, with painted decoration


Height: 12 cm, Width: 12 cm, Depth: 11 cm

Object history note

One of a large collecton of tea caddies given by Thomas Sutton, in memory of his wife.

Descriptive line

Octagonal tea caddy, veneered in satinwood and other woods, with green painted leaves on the front




Marquetry; Veneering; Painting

Subjects depicted



Containers; Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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