Tea Caddy thumbnail 1
Tea Caddy thumbnail 2
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Not currently on display at the V&A

Tea Caddy

1780-1800 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

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.
The surface is japanned, a technique using layers of varnish to imitate lacquer. This has now dulled with time. By the 18th century the serving of tea had become a genteel social event. The tea caddy would have been displayed along with other fine accessories on the tea table.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
papier mache; japanning; brass
Brief description
Black japanned tea caddy with gilt border
Physical description
Oval tea caddy, papier mache (layered) japanned black and with a border of vermiculated ornament and rosettes in white and gold; with brass handle and escutcheon; the interior has a cover also japanned black.
Dimensions
  • Height: 11.5cm
  • Width: 12.7cm
  • Depth: 7.7cm
Credit line
Given by Thomas Sutton, Esq., in memory of his wife
Object history
This tea caddy was part of a large gift of tea caddies given by the collector Thomas Sutton in 1919. [R.P. 19/3782].
Historical context
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.

The surface is japanned, a technique using layers of varnish to imitate lacquer. This has now dulled with time. By the 18th century the serving of tea had become a genteel social event. The tea caddy would have been displayed along with other fine accessories on the tea table.
Summary
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.

The surface is japanned, a technique using layers of varnish to imitate lacquer. This has now dulled with time. By the 18th century the serving of tea had become a genteel social event. The tea caddy would have been displayed along with other fine accessories on the tea table.
Collection
Accession number
W.66-1919

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Record createdJune 24, 2009
Record URL
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