This caddy by Charles Thomas Fox & George Fox is chased in relief with scenes known as ‘The Tea-Picker Design’, depicting Chinese tea-pickers, pagodas, scrolls, shells, lion masks and engraved panels of stylised leaves. The overall design seems to derive from one made by the renowned 18th century silversmith, Paul de Lamerie. The decoration typifies the Victorian taste for eclecticism, as features of Chinoiserie and Rococo styles are here combined. 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 Fox family ran a successful business manufacturing high-quality silver in period styles, and supplied silver to a number of large retail establishments in London.