Learn about Tea Caddy

In the 17th century, tea was first introduced to Britain from the East Indies by the Dutch East India Company who had a monopoly on this trade, as well as some of the spices now in common use. As a result, the leaf tea from which the drink was made was an extremely expensive commodity, and so had to be appropriately stored and safeguarded. The tea caddy was devised for this purpose.

The first tea caddies, sometimes called tea canisters, as they were only single compartment vessels, were often of silver, and bottle shaped with a removable top that could be used to measure tea into the pot.

In the 18th century, taxes were imposed on tea making it even more expensive, and to safeguard the contents a lockable box was devised. The simple forms of these boxes had a removable receptacle to store the tea. The larger examples housed two receptacles side by side. The tea containers were often lined with a silver paper like substance presumably to protect the tea from moisture. more...
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A George III pear shaped tea caddy early 19th century, realistically carved, each half opens to reveal remnants of a tin lined interior, accompanied by original key, 17 cm total height

Regency casuarina sarcophagus tea caddy, with twin lidded compartments, 18.3 cm wide, 13.5 cm high

A superb French kingwood and Sevres panel serpentine shaped tea caddy table, 78 cm high, 43 cm wide, 31 cm deep

Georgian sarcophagus tea caddy, with brass fittings on four ball feet, width 20 cm, diameter 12 cm, height 14 cm

Good Georgian tea caddy, with internal two box and centre mixing bowl fittings (blue glass bowl fitted later), brass side handles and inlaid key escutcheon, width 34 cm, diameter 16 cm, height 17 cm

Victorian coromandel tea caddy with extensive brass decoration & strength eners, having a two compartment interior with two lift-out boxes in satinwood. Brass plates on lid of boxes with initials 'G' & 'B', for green and black tea.

Victorian tea caddy, of rectangular form, decorated with tunbridge inlay borders, opening to fitted interior and mixing bowl, a/f, together with another box and cover, (2)

Georgian sarcophagus shape tea caddy, on four brass feet, with lions head brass handles, width 31 cm, depth 17 cm, height 19.5 cm approx

Tunbridge Ware burr timber tea caddy having a central panel depicting a rabbit, with two bands of inlaid panels to the top & the front. A mother of pearl inlaid keyhole, with two timber lidded inserts, with original key.

An old Berlin hand-painted porcelain tea caddy, the front and back panels painted with classical figured scenes, jewelled gilt borders on cobalt ground, the sides, top and lid with further conforming detail, underglaze blue mark, signed J. Koller, the base

A Sheraton cube-form tea caddy, oval radiating inlays, cross-banded detail, chamfered corners, bone inlaid teardrop form escutcheon, a brass captured handle to the top. 12.5 cm x 10 cm x 12 cm

Antique brass decorated tea caddy, 21 cm x 13 cm, 13.5 cm high approx.

A fine carved bamboo tea caddy, Qing Dynasty, 19th century, Utilising the natural culm of the bamboo and finely carved in deep relief to a principal panel and three shaped cartouches, with figural narratives in traditional garden pavilion settings and two

A Regency penwork tea caddy, English, crica 1810, 18 cm high, 22 cm wide, 14.5 cm deep

Victorian Queensland maple campaign tea caddy having brass mounts & a hinged lift top, the interior with three hinged compartmentys with lead lining. Condition good, minor scratches & age related wear. Dimensions 23 x 252 x 22 cm

An Anglo-Indian satinwood tea caddy, circa 1840, 21.5 cm high, 23 cm wide, 16 cm deep

A good Georgian tea caddy with inlay decoration & fitted interior, 30 cm x 15 cm, 15.5 cm high approx.

An Egyptian revival bone and mother of pearl marquetry inlaid sarcophagus top tea caddy, 18 cm high, 28 cm wide, 18 cm deep

A fine mother of pearl of tea caddy, the hexagonal in form, with diamond shaped mother of pearl inlay, opening to a single original lid, supported by four bun feet, accompanied by the original key, 10 x 14 x 8.5 cm

Good Georgian tea caddy, width 25 cm, depth 14 cm x height 20 cm approx

Good 19th tea caddy, width 25 cm, depth 14 cm x height 15 cm approx

An early hand decorated porcelain tea caddy, no damage.

Vintage English oak tea caddy on 3 ball feet & with a ceramic liner

Regency birds eye maple tea caddy box with lift out compartment, 38.5 cm x19 cm, 21 cm high approx.

A Sorrento ware tea caddy inlaid with marquetry of peasants dancing, circa 1840, 12.5 x 11.5 x 10 cm

Lacquer tea caddy c.1850's, approx. 34 cm L, 28 cm W, 15 cm high

Georgian tea caddy with brass fittings & 3 inside compartments

A George III Sheraton tea caddy, circa 18th century. 13 cm high.

Wooden tea caddy marked Victory (with picture of HMS Victory) Approx 14 cm high, 23 cm wide, 18 cm deep

A George III oval inlaid satinwood tea caddy, circa 1790 the top inlaid with flower head paterae, brass handle, the sides decorated with amphora, swags and foliate motifs, the interior with original tin lining and key 12 cm high, 19.5 cm wide, 14.5 cm deep

Antique black lacquer ware tea caddy with remnants of painted decoration to top, 13,5 cm high approx.

A Worcester fluted Hop Trellis pattern 'French' shape tea caddy and cover, circa 1780. 16.5 cm high

Antique tea caddy with brass mounts no interior, approx 14 cm high, 24 cm wide, 14 cm deep

Antique Georgian specimen wood parquetry tea caddy, fitted with two caddies and central glass, standing on repousse brass bracket feet, drop ring handles to the sides, approx16 cm high, 28 cm wide, 15 cm deep

Rare antique mid 19th century miniature sideboard tea caddy, the top lifts to reveal a fitted interior with two caddies and central glass, side secret long drawer, has key. Approx 31.5 cm high, 44 cm wide, 16.5 cm deep

A Georgian burr elm and boxwood stringing tea caddy box, early 19th century interior with two lidded compartments and turned ivory knobs. Height 13.5 cm; width 18 cm; Depth 10.5 cm

A tea caddy in the form of leather books 19th century with top compartment and hidden lock, brass fittings to interior, 15 x 21 cm (faults to top lid, leather worn)