This caddy by Joseph Angell is chased in relief with scenes depicting Chinese tea-pickers, pagodas, scrolls, shells, lion masks and engraved panels of stylised leaves, motifs which are typical of both the chinoiserie and rococo styles. The chinoiserie style, which became fashionable from the 17th century, took its inspiration from the art and design of China and Japan and was considered to be especially appropriate decoration for teawares on account of tea’s Chinese origins. It remained fashionable in the 19th century, largely as a result of the expansion of British diplomatic activity and trade in China in the 1850s and 1860s and the re-opening of Japan to Western trade.
The firm of Joseph Angell and Son was one of the largest and most important silversmithing manufacturers and retailers in London in the mid-19th century. Joseph Angell (senior) entered his first mark as a plateworker in 1811 and established his firm as manufacturing silversmiths to the trade, supplying to important firms such as Rundell, Bridge and Rundell. Joseph Angell (senior) retired in 1848 and his son, Joseph Angell (junior), who made this tea caddy, continued the family business under his own name. In around 1849 the firm opened a shop at no.10 The Strand.
The caddy was later engraved with a mock coat of arms on the lid to add interest and value.