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Antique Boxes in English Society
1760 -1900
Tea Caddies and Tea
Tea Caddies and Tea



A Fine Regency Penwork Two Compartment  Tea Caddy circa 1815
A fine Regency two compartment Penwork Tea caddy decorated all over with exotic penwork scenes on a sycamore ground  and standing on embossed gilded brass paw feet . 

Circa 1815. 

Penwork and painted caddies are very rare.
They were only produced for a short time. They  have a unique and delightful quality, which results from the excitement of discovery and the eagerness to express it. Each one is a gem of social history.

The caddy is in good original condition. 

 It has a working lock and key.

"Penwork" is sometimes referred to as "pen and ink".

It measures 9.5  inches wide  by 6 inches deep and it is 6.75  tall including feet: 24 cm wide  by 15 cm deep and it is 17cm  tall including  the feet.

 Front view:   

The front is decorated with one of the classic penwork scenes: a camel train accompanied by horses and traders 





End views: 

The caddy  has lion drop handles.






The back of the caddy is decorated with a scene of a trading caravan with an then exotic elephant. This is one of the "classic"  penwork compositions.


The caddy stands on gilded  paw feet


The shaped top is decorated with a perfusion of  stylized foliage. 
The pyramided shape is inspired by the images  and knowledge which were currently coming from Egypt

For the most part this caddy retains its original varnish. 

As can be seen there is some pitting and wear.


The inside is as decorated as the outside. 

It contains two lift out canisters which are decorated with further scenes and which retain some of the original lead lining.
The inside of the lid has yet another exotic scene.

Even the sides of the canisters are decorated. They do show some wear.

The complexity of the caddy construction can be seen here. The compartment for the canisters is lined with red velvet, which has helped to protect the the penwork on the sides of the canisters. 

The facings are a dark brown colour.


A caddy spoon by E Morley London 1801 fits the unusual space between the canisters:  






Detail of the penwork  on the lids of the two canisters


The camel's expression says it all.

 Notice the crackle in the finish, which indicates the original 1815 varnish. 


For the historical context of this caddy read the relevant part of Antigone's Online Antique Box Book. If you click here you will go there.

We are preparing a highly illustrated book on Antique Boxes  for publication next year by Schiffer Books USA. This box has been photographed with a view to including the pictures. 

  © 2000 Antigone Clarke and Joseph O'Kelly