English, active 1726–after 1753
Tea caddy, sugar box, case, 1736
silver, shagreen leather
(ab) Sugar Box; Top: 13.5 x 10.5 x 7.5 cm; (cd) Caddy; Top: 14.2 x 9.5 x 6 cm; (ef) Caddy; Top: 14.2 x 9.5 x 6 cm; (g) Case: 19 x 31.5 x 16.5 cm; (h) Key: 4 x 1.6 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of Norman and Marian Robertson
This impressive travelling set was made by John Newton, a London-based silversmith who specialized in tea caddies. Tea, a luxury item, was introduced to England in the mid-seventeenth century, and the appearance of tea caddies and chests accompanied the rise of tea drinking. These containers often featured locks, as is present in this work, as a way to safeguard the precious and expensive loose tea leaves. In 1774 the government reduced the taxes on tea, officially halving its price and allowing for greater importation of the leaves and increased accessibility to a wider audience. By the early years of the nineteenth century, tea was part of British life for both the rich and the poor.