The first tea canisters originated in China during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when the fashion for loose leaf necessitated new, air-tight vessels in which to store the leaves and keep them fresh. By the mid-18th century, the fashion for tea drinking had spread across Europe, where it was seen as a mark of sophistication and social etiquette. Silversmiths responded to the demand for teawares by creating fine silver pieces for the upper classes.
The Huguenot silversmith Peze Pilleau was known for his high quality pieces, characterised by fine proportion, and is often considered as one of the finest Huguenot silversmiths. Specialising in faceted objects, Pilleau worked for John Chartier and married Chartier’s daughter, Henriette, in 1724. He produced pieces in the Huguenot taste, inspired by Rococo themes. The central cartouche on the body of the tea caddy depicts a garb on a wreath, a crest attributed to the coats of arms of a number of families in the heraldic records.