The fashion for tea drinking in Britain led to a demand for decorative containers in which to store tea leaves and became known as caddies, derived from the Malay work ‘kati’ which was a unit of measurement for weighing tea. Due to the high price of tea, caddies were usually fitted with a lock, the key for which was kept safely by the lady of the house. The square bombe shape of this caddy was a popular design in the mid-18th century, the narrow neck and straight sides of earlier designs replaced by curvaceous forms and a wider hinged or lift off lid.
Its maker, Edward Aldridge, entered his first mark in 1724, working out of premises in Foster Lane, London. In 1742 he was tried for counterfeiting marks by his guild, but was found innocent by the jury ‘contrary to the opinion of the Court’. In 1753, he registered new marks in partnership with John Stamper, ‘the son of a gentleman’, a partnership that lasted until 1757. Aldridge was known for his cake baskets and ink stands, specialising in pierced work for which he became known. This caddy was produced late in his career as his widow took over the business, registering her own mark, on his passing in 1766.