Tea Canister thumbnail 1
Tea Canister thumbnail 2
+1
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries

This object consists of 2 parts, some of which may be located elsewhere.

Tea Canister

1815 - 1820 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
Tea caddies were small boxes, sometimes with two or three inner compartments, used to store loose tea leaves. They were usually kept locked to protect the valuable contents. They were often highly decorative because they were placed on the table as tea was served, where they would be seen by family and guests. Being small and light, they were ideal for decoration at home. The decoration on this caddy would have taken hours of painstaking work.

Places & People
This caddy is unusual in that it is signed in embroidery and also has the name of a school. This suggests that it was decorated by a child at the school, which was probably in Long Melford, Suffolk. There was a school in the parish church at Long Melford from about 1690, and there were also several private schools in the village. Mary Skeet was second child of Samuel Skeet, who from 1823 was landlord of The Greyhound Inn at the nearby village of Lavenham.

Materials & Making
Tea caddies were ideal for decorating with rolled paperwork, but other small boxes, cabinets and screens were also used. The method was called 'filigree' at the time. The intricate patterns could be copied from published sheets, available from shops such as 'The Temple of Fancy' at 34 Rathbone Place, London. The shop also sold plain objects for decorating.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Tea Caddy
  • Tea Caddy Carrying Case
Materials and Techniques
Rolled paperwork, embroidery and wood
Brief Description
Tea caddy, rolled paperwork, embroidered with 'M. Skeet, Melford School'.
Physical Description
Hexagonal shape decorated with rolled paperwork over a wood core. Oval panels of embroidery on front and back, on the front a basket of flowers above entwined initials, on the back bearing the words 'M.SKEET Melford School'
Dimensions
  • Height: 12cm
  • Width: 17.5cm
  • Depth: 9.5cm
Dimensions checked: Measured; 28/04/1999 by KN
Production typeUnique
Marks and Inscriptions
M. SKEET Melford School
Gallery Label
British Galleries: Rolled paperwork was a popular amateur craft from about 1780 to 1830. Strips of coloured paper, often with gilt edges, were tightly coiled and glued to a flat surface, producing an effect similar to metal filigree. Cabinet-makers supplied plain boxes with raised edges specifically for this type of work.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by Queen Mary
Object history
The paperwork and embroidery were executed by Mary Skeet (1807-1885), a pupil of Melford School, Long Melford, Suffolk, on a commercially-made frame. This tea caddy was given to the V&A in 1927 by Queen Mary, the consort of King George V (RP 3989/27); it is not clear how it came into the possession of the royal family.

Subject depicted
Summary
Object Type
Tea caddies were small boxes, sometimes with two or three inner compartments, used to store loose tea leaves. They were usually kept locked to protect the valuable contents. They were often highly decorative because they were placed on the table as tea was served, where they would be seen by family and guests. Being small and light, they were ideal for decoration at home. The decoration on this caddy would have taken hours of painstaking work.

Places & People
This caddy is unusual in that it is signed in embroidery and also has the name of a school. This suggests that it was decorated by a child at the school, which was probably in Long Melford, Suffolk. There was a school in the parish church at Long Melford from about 1690, and there were also several private schools in the village. Mary Skeet was second child of Samuel Skeet, who from 1823 was landlord of The Greyhound Inn at the nearby village of Lavenham.

Materials & Making
Tea caddies were ideal for decorating with rolled paperwork, but other small boxes, cabinets and screens were also used. The method was called 'filigree' at the time. The intricate patterns could be copied from published sheets, available from shops such as 'The Temple of Fancy' at 34 Rathbone Place, London. The shop also sold plain objects for decorating.
Collection
Accession Number
W.31:1, 2-1927

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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