Tea Canister thumbnail 1
Tea Canister thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery

Tea Canister

1760-1765 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
Tea canisters were containers for storing tea-leaves. They are often called 'caddies' today, a name that derives from the Malay word for a measure of weight (kati) equivalent to about half a kilogram. In mid-18th century Britain tea not made in the kitchen, but in front of the family and guests by the lady of the house. Like other tea utensils, canisters are therefore often highly decorative.

During the 18th century, as its price gradually fell, tea ceased to be an expensive luxury and became more widely drunk. In 1784 import duties were drastically reduced. These changes were reflected in the increasing size of the containers over the course of the century.

Design & Manufacture
Ceramics with naturalistic moulded decoration were very popular in mid-18th century Britain. This cauliflower canister was made by pressing wet clay into a hollow two-piece plaster mould bearing the shape in reverse. The seam from the mould down the side of the canister is clearly visible. The hollow moulds for making this piece were formed using a convex master model of the shape. The master model would have been made in stoneware, probably by a specialist block-maker.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Earthenware, with a lead glaze stained with metal oxides
Brief Description
C
Physical Description
Tea canister with leaf decoration
Dimensions
  • Height: 9.84cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Inscribed with the initials 'JW' on the base
Gallery Label
  • British Galleries: TEA CANISTERS
    Although Wedgwood made a number of improvements to earthenware glazes in the years around 1760, including a green colour introduced in 1759, he is best known as a supporter of Neo-classicism. Before adopting classical forms and motifs he made pottery similar to these canisters, with naturalistically-moulded decoration and rich colour effects.(27/03/2003)
  • Tea canister Made at the factory of Whieldon/Wedgwood or Wedgwood, about 1754-64 Mark: signed 'JW' probably for Josiah Wedgwood Lead-glazed earthenware C.16-1940 Arthur Hurst Bequest(23/05/2008)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Mr Arthur Hurst
Subject depicted
Summary
Object Type
Tea canisters were containers for storing tea-leaves. They are often called 'caddies' today, a name that derives from the Malay word for a measure of weight (kati) equivalent to about half a kilogram. In mid-18th century Britain tea not made in the kitchen, but in front of the family and guests by the lady of the house. Like other tea utensils, canisters are therefore often highly decorative.

During the 18th century, as its price gradually fell, tea ceased to be an expensive luxury and became more widely drunk. In 1784 import duties were drastically reduced. These changes were reflected in the increasing size of the containers over the course of the century.

Design & Manufacture
Ceramics with naturalistic moulded decoration were very popular in mid-18th century Britain. This cauliflower canister was made by pressing wet clay into a hollow two-piece plaster mould bearing the shape in reverse. The seam from the mould down the side of the canister is clearly visible. The hollow moulds for making this piece were formed using a convex master model of the shape. The master model would have been made in stoneware, probably by a specialist block-maker.
Collection
Accession Number
C.16-1940

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdMarch 27, 2003
Record URL