A Late George III Rosewood Sarcophagus-Shaped Tea Caddy, c. 1815

c. 1815
rosewood on a pine carcase, brass inlay
15 × 12 × 23 cm

A Late George III Rosewood Sarcophagus-Shaped Tea Caddy, Inlaid with Cut Brass Work And Lines, with Bead and Reel Mouldings, on Bun Feet. The Rising Top Revealing Two Compartments.

Of typical late Regency design, this elegant tea caddy draws on the influence of Ancient Rome in its sarcophagus form and classical mouldings, but also the revived influence of France, with its cut brass ornament in imitation of the Louis XIV “Boulle” furniture that had become available after the Revolution and was keenly collected by George, the Prince Regent and future king.

Part of the extensive social ritual of the 18th century, the “drinking a dish of tea” signified social status or aspirational status seeking. The price of one pound of the most choice “hyson” tea was GBP2 which nowadays would be about $85.00, and the theft of tea often caused a poor domestic to be transported to the colonies. This was why tea was locked up in elegant caddies, produced on the tea table as part of the elegant ritual of making tea, with its special furniture, silver and porcelain accoutrements.


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