Tea Canister thumbnail 1
Tea Canister thumbnail 2
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images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 138, The Harry and Carol Djanogly Gallery

Tea Canister

ca. 1750 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Object Type
With no Chinese porcelain protypes to copy, British ceramic tea canisters of the 18th century took several different forms. They are mostly, however, square or octagonal with a wide cylindrical lip, and seem to derive from the japanned metal canisters used for displaying and dispensing tea and coffee in grocers' shops. By contrast, smarter tea canisters of glass or silver tended to copy the wooden tea chest, complete with its wavy metal edging and corners. Only later in the century was the little baluster-shaped canister copied by English porcelain factories (for example, Worcester) which imitated Chinese vase-like versions made solely for export.

Design & Designing
Although Staffordshire white stoneware had been perfected by about 1720, its possibilities for mass-production were not fully exploited until the 1740s. Then the techniques of press-moulding, slip-casting and enamelling were developed, and the drabness of the greyish stoneware surface was successfully relieved by the addition of all-over decoration (parallels may be drawn here with the development of British pressed glass after the mid-19th century). At first, desperate for ideas, the Staffordshire makers of block-moulds used old designs taken from Johann Nieuhoff's An Embassy from the East India Company of the United Provinces, to the Grand Tartar Chaim or Emperour of China, first published in English in 1669.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Salt-glazed stoneware and moulded
Brief description
Tea canister of salt-glazed stoneware, four-sided and oblong shape, and with a flat top and short neck, and moulded, maker unknown, made in Staffordshire, ca. 1750.
Physical description
Tea canister of salt-glazed stoneware, four-sided and oblong shape, and with a flat top and short neck, and moulded on one of the two larger sides with a flowering tea-shrub and 'CIA or TE herb', and on the other, a vine growing over a tree accompanied by a scroll inscribed 'Herb Te', and at the top is a border of cresting.
Dimensions
  • Approx. height: 9.5cm
  • Approx. width: 6.7cm
Dimensions checked: Registered Description; 01/01/1998 by KN
Marks and inscriptions
  • 'CIA or TE herb' (Moulded on one side)
  • 'Herb Te' (On one side)
Gallery label
British Galleries: The flowering tree decorating this tea caddy is a tea bush taken from a 17th-century European print. The inscription 'CIA' is derived from the Chinese word for tea, Ch'a, and the expression to have 'a cup of char' is still used today.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by Lady Charlotte Schreiber
Object history
One of a pair with 414:958-1885 (Sch. II 122).
Subjects depicted
Summary
Object Type
With no Chinese porcelain protypes to copy, British ceramic tea canisters of the 18th century took several different forms. They are mostly, however, square or octagonal with a wide cylindrical lip, and seem to derive from the japanned metal canisters used for displaying and dispensing tea and coffee in grocers' shops. By contrast, smarter tea canisters of glass or silver tended to copy the wooden tea chest, complete with its wavy metal edging and corners. Only later in the century was the little baluster-shaped canister copied by English porcelain factories (for example, Worcester) which imitated Chinese vase-like versions made solely for export.

Design & Designing
Although Staffordshire white stoneware had been perfected by about 1720, its possibilities for mass-production were not fully exploited until the 1740s. Then the techniques of press-moulding, slip-casting and enamelling were developed, and the drabness of the greyish stoneware surface was successfully relieved by the addition of all-over decoration (parallels may be drawn here with the development of British pressed glass after the mid-19th century). At first, desperate for ideas, the Staffordshire makers of block-moulds used old designs taken from Johann Nieuhoff's An Embassy from the East India Company of the United Provinces, to the Grand Tartar Chaim or Emperour of China, first published in English in 1669.
Other number
Sch. II 122A - Schreiber number
Collection
Accession number
414:958/A-1885

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Record createdFebruary 23, 2009
Record URL
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