Between the late 17th and early 18th century, British silver tea canisters often featured a pull-off cap which doubled as a measuring dose for the necessary amount to brew very weak green tea. It was not until the mid-18th century that caddy spoons emerged as the preferred tool for taking and measuring out dry tea leaves. Caddy spoons could be commissioned in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and materials and much like other tea-making utensils, these soon became a means to display aesthetic taste.
This caddy spoon resembles a jockey cap and is one of the best-known ‘novelty’ designs to emerge at the turn of the 19th century. Several silversmiths in London, Birmingham and Sheffield produced caddy spoons in this form, but it is thought that the first originated from the maker of this example, Joseph Taylor (1767-1827). The caddy spoon is stamped with husk and reed decoration and stars along the brim, while a shield cartouche bears an initial in bright-cut engraving.