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Tea caddy

ca. 1750
Origin: China, Jingdezhen
Overall: 4 1/4 x 3 5/16 x 2 1/2in.
Porcelain, hard-paste
Bequest of Elizabeth Ridgely Blagojevich
Acc. No. 1991-195
An tea caddy of octagonal shape decorated in underglaze blue. The four narrow panels at the canted corners each possess two stylized flower sprigs. The two larger panels are decorated with a chrysanthemum springing from grassy leaves and two leafy sprigs that terminate in flowers. The end panels contain a similar motif, but with only one leafy flowering sprig. Each of the eight panels is delineated by a thin blue line, the bottom border an eighth of an inch from the base. The elongated octagonal flat top of the canister is encircled by a crosshatch border and decorated with two leafy clusters that flank the unglazed cylindrical neck. The flat base is also unglazed. The metal cover is a replacement and has itself been repaired, while the neck beneath is intact.
Label:Tea caddies or canisters played an important role in the tea ritual, serving both as storage containers and decorative wares. Often made to match other tea furnishings, caddies were sold as individual canisters or in sets of two or three. They held a wide assortment of dry tea leaves, including Bohea, Pekoe, Green, and Hyson. The leaves were spooned from the caddy at the tea table. This caddy is very similar in shape and design to one recovered archaeologically from the site of Richard Charlton’s coffeehouse.
Provenance:Mrs. Elizabeth R. Blagojevich