A Regency Rosewood & Mother of Pearl Inlaid Tea Caddy


Origin: Regency
Period: Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1820
Length: 14.5 inches
Width: 8 inches
Height: 7 inches

Of tapering sarcophagus form, the sloping lid with a central raised rectangular panel with a gadrooned border, above tapering sides, with loop handles, the base with a further gadrooned border and bun feet. The caddy is beautifully inlaid all over with mother of pearl, with various floral, circle and bird motifs, and geometric linear borders. The lid opens to an interior of two tea caddies, each with a mother of pearl letter inlaid on the lid (for Green and Black tea), and a velvet lined cylindrical space, for the glass mixing bowl, which is absent. 

There is a hairline crack to the rear top of the piece, but overall the caddy is in very good condition with a wonderful colour and elegant form, and only one or two areas of very slight loss to the inlay, that in no way spoils the overall appearance.

The Regency period is so called because it is the period between 1811-1820, when King George III was deemed unfit to rule, and his son William, then the Prince Regent, was installed as his proxy. In 1820 George died and William acceded to become William IV.  The Regency period was a vibrant, transitional and experimental time in British history, characterised by distinctive trends in art and architecture. 

In the early nineteenth century, tea was still an expensive commodity, and it had to be stored securely (hence the escutcheon and lock), and in an attractive manner befitting its luxury status, and of course, the high rank of the owner. The word 'caddy' is a corruption of the Malay word 'kati', a weight of tea equivalent to about a pound and a half. The word was not used widely in English until probably the end of the eighteenth century, when its use would have most likely been to refer to a box or chest to house metal or porcelain bottles.