Tea caddy

Ref: 1723
  • Detail

    Ebony and ivory; the interior lined with red velvet and the fittings silver

    16 × 25.6 × 16 (maximum depth) cm

    Indian (Vizagapatam), circa 1765 (the box)
    English (London), 1766/67 (two caddies) and 1767/68 (one caddy); the spoons also London, but undated

    The silver caddies marked for John Vere and William Lutwyche (active circa 1766–1783, first in Lombard Street, then in Fenchurch Street). The spoons marked for Nicholas Hearnden, who appears to have specialised in spoons; he was active from around 1757–1767, and probably later

  • Provenance

    The Mackworth-Praed family, perhaps since the eighteenth century, and by descent

  • Notes

    Anglo-Indian tea caddies and other boxes dating from the middle of the eighteenth century are rarer than examples dating from later in the century; see Amin Jaffer, Furniture from British India and Ceylon, London, 2001, p. 173. Jaffer writes: ‘Prior to the mid-eighteenth century, the practice at Vizagapatam was that of inlaying wood – chiefly ebony, rosewood and padouk – with floral designs… in ivory, the ivory itself engraved and highlighted with applications of lac. The patterns were drawn on a panel of ivory, filled and sliced between 1⁄16 and 1⁄8 inch thick. These were laid down in corresponding recesses in the carcases, the excess mastic used to fill in any gaps and creating a black outline around the ivory.’

    It seems likely that boxes such as the present example were purchased in India and fitted out by the owners on their return. The silver would have been bought from shops, hence the caddies with one maker’s mark and the spoons with another.

    The Mackworth-Praeds were a Cornish family, some of whom served as Members of Parliament during the eighteenth century. They came to own late eighteenth- century Bitton House, Teignmouth, Devon. Perhaps best known is Winthrop Mackworth Praed (1802–1839), a politi- cian and poet.