Time for Tea

06/10/15

Tea – That thoroughly British beverage! Go into any house in the UK and it is almost guaranteed they will have at least one box sitting in a cupboard to offer you. However, it has not always been so easy to obtain that refreshing cuppa.

Tea first came to prominence in the 17th Century when explorers visiting China discovered the local drink and brought it back to the UK. Tea was originally drunk black and was often green in variety. It wasn’t until the 18th Century that black tea became more popular and the additions of milk and sugar were made.

Tea was hugely expensive at this time and was kept under lock and key in tea caddies, which were often elaborate and decorated. Originally tea was stored in jars which changed over time into wooden caddies with two or three internal divisions. Sugar was often stored in the central compartment and the larger caddies were referred to as tea chests. To make sure there was no waste of this precious commodity Caddy Spoons were used to measure out the dried tea leaves stored in the tea caddie. These spoons were traditionally made in silver and were made in various different designs and shapes.

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Lot 611 in our 11th August 2015 Sale - An early 19th Century tortoiseshell rectangular two division tea caddy - Sold for £420.

As tea became cheaper and more readily available the need for tea caddies and their caddy spoons declined. These days, however, caddy spoons are highly collectible, with collectors creating their collections based on numerous different factors. Some collectors favour certain manufacturers, others specific years. Collectors may also choose to collect from a specific assay office or those spoons with a specific feature such as a shell shape.

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Lot 35 in our upcoming October sale - £250-350.

In our upcoming October sale we have the Alex Sandford Collection of Silver Caddy spoons.  These have come from The John Norie Collection - Woolley & Wallis Auction, 20th April 2004 and are well worth a look! 

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Lot 34 in our upcoming October sale - please take a look through our online catalogue for more lots in this sale!

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