The fashion for tea-drinking in Britain led to a great demand for decorative containers in which to store tea leaves, known as caddies. Due to the high price of tea, caddies were usually fitted with a lock, the key for which was safely kept by the lady of the house. Towards the end of the 18th century, the form of the tea caddy evolved and more elaborate shapes and styles were introduced to cater to a fashion-conscious clientele. Elliptical caddies, such as this example, were made during the last quarter of the 18th century and were often engraved with fashionable neoclassical decoration.
This elegant tea caddy was made by the esteemed English silversmith Henry Chawner who ran a successful business in London, together with the engraver John Emes. The caddy is engraved with the Royal arms and motto of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767-1820), the fourth son of George III, and Queen Victoria’s father.