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
British Galleries, Room 56c

Tea Canister

1690-1698 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
In the absence of prototypes, the Elers brothers adapted the shape of this tea canister or bottle from the form of a much larger Chinese red stoneware jar made at Yixing (Jiangsu province) in the late 17th century. The size of these little canisters and the tiny contemporary teapots reflects the very high price of tea in this period, as only a small quantity of tea leaves needed to be used, and the pot would be refilled with hot water for subsequent cups.

People
The silversmith brothers John Philip and David Elers attempted not just to substitute their own red stonewares for those imported from China, but also to add specifically European shapes to the range by introducing coffee cups, little beer mugs and tiny tea canisters. These are all notable for their superb workmanship, which is also evident in the expensive gilt metal mounts.

Materials & Making
The properties of the red stoneware which trickled into England from China from about 1680 must have appeared almost magical: it was unglazed yet not porous, and could withstand the fierce flame of a spirit lamp without cracking. When the Elers brothers discovered a vein of this iron-rich clay in Staffordshire, they applied their silversmithing techniques of casting in plaster moulds and lathe-turning to supply the luxury market in London. Unfortunately their ignorance of the basic technique of throwing pottery on a wheel made production uneconomical and led to their bankruptcy.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Slip-cast red stoneware, with gilt-metal mounts
Brief Description
Tea canister, slip-cast red stoneware with gilt-metal mounts, made by David and John Philip Elers, 1690-1698
Dimensions
  • Height: 13.3cm
  • Width: 3.5cm
  • Depth: 3.8cm
Gallery Label
British Galleries: The popularity of tea in Britain encouraged the development of new objects associated with the new drink. This canister for storing tea is made of red stoneware, which was first used by the Chinese for such containers. The design reflects the origin of tea as it includes a figure, birds and trees that were thought to look Chinese.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by C. H. Campbell, Esq.
Object history
Designed and made by John Philip & David Elers in Bradwell Wood, Staffordshire (active there about 1690-1698)
Summary
Object Type
In the absence of prototypes, the Elers brothers adapted the shape of this tea canister or bottle from the form of a much larger Chinese red stoneware jar made at Yixing (Jiangsu province) in the late 17th century. The size of these little canisters and the tiny contemporary teapots reflects the very high price of tea in this period, as only a small quantity of tea leaves needed to be used, and the pot would be refilled with hot water for subsequent cups.

People
The silversmith brothers John Philip and David Elers attempted not just to substitute their own red stonewares for those imported from China, but also to add specifically European shapes to the range by introducing coffee cups, little beer mugs and tiny tea canisters. These are all notable for their superb workmanship, which is also evident in the expensive gilt metal mounts.

Materials & Making
The properties of the red stoneware which trickled into England from China from about 1680 must have appeared almost magical: it was unglazed yet not porous, and could withstand the fierce flame of a spirit lamp without cracking. When the Elers brothers discovered a vein of this iron-rich clay in Staffordshire, they applied their silversmithing techniques of casting in plaster moulds and lathe-turning to supply the luxury market in London. Unfortunately their ignorance of the basic technique of throwing pottery on a wheel made production uneconomical and led to their bankruptcy.
Bibliographic Reference
Young, Hilary, 'The Birth of the Ceramic Designer' in Walford, Tom and Hilary Young British Ceramic Design, 1600-2002: Papers presented at the colloquium celebrating the 75th anniversary of the English Ceramic Circle, 1927-2002. 2003, p. 19, fig. 7
Collection
Accession Number
C.275-1921

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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