Pear-Form Tea Caddy, ca. 1790
Appraised Value: $4,000 (1998)
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (2:58)
Books & Manuscripts, Decorative Arts, Furniture, Pottery & Porcelain, Silver
APPRAISER: Hi, Janet, how are you?
GUEST: Hi, great, how are you?
APPRAISER: Good, where do you come from today?
GUEST: Richmond, Richmond, Virginia.
APPRAISER: Terrific, terrific. I almost thought you had brought me breakfast.
GUEST: Well, I didn't get breakfast myself. I was out early this morning so…
APPRAISER: Well, I’m glad you came in with this wonderful tea caddie. Now, tell me, where did you get this tea caddie?
GUEST: I got it at an estate sale in Virginia, but not in Richmond, in the western part of the state.
APPRAISER: Okay, well, that's terrific. And you recognized it immediately as something that was interesting.
GUEST: Yes, I collect boxes and tea caddies but did not ever have one of a shape quite like that and thought it was interesting.
APPRAISER: Well, it certainly is an unusual shape. I don't think people realize today just how important and how valuable tea was to the Europeans. Literally, it was more expensive than gold. So it almost always was stored under lock and key, and tea, as a ritual, would be served almost entirely by the lady of the house. The servants would bring the material out. She would take the tea caddie out, very, sort of, reverently open the tea caddie and pour it out and whatnot. Now, I understand that when you bought this you had some doubts about it. You weren't sure whether or not it was real.
GUEST: Well, there were several antique dealers at the same estate sale where I was at the sale, and they didn't seem to be very interested in it, and that made me feel it couldn't be original...
APPRAISER: Couldn't be real, right.
GUEST: It could be original if they were not fighting over it.
APPRAISER: Well, it's a pear-form tea caddie, and what we have actually, ironically, one of the things that's a real tip-off for us in determining the authenticity is this brass piece that was added later.
GUEST: Yes, I was pretty sure that was not original.
APPRAISER: Added later but it gives us an important clue. And actually, if you look in here you'll see-- see that red?
APPRAISER: Well, that's the original stain of the caddie, okay?
APPRAISER: And you look at... There are a couple of other things that give us a good indication of age. This little ivory escutcheon here, which has nice little shrinkage right in here and on the back we have a hinge right here. And see how that's worn right there?
GUEST: Yes, yes.
APPRAISER: In order to do that, someone would have to be constantly opening and closing it opening and closing it, and there's also very wonderful wear on the bottom here.
GUEST: I looked at the bottom. I looked at the hinges, but I know they are very good at faking bottoms and hinges.
APPRAISER: Absolutely-- this one happens to be a real one. And it actually... It's had some color taken off of the top of it, the red here and possibly the stem might have been repaired, and the foil on the inside here has been replaced. However, that's still the most desirable of all tea caddie forms is this pear- and apple-shaped tea caddie.
GUEST: Which I had read.
APPRAISER: Right-- how much did you pay for it?
APPRAISER: What do you think it's worth?
GUEST: Well, until today, $235. But if you're telling me it is original, it's probably more like $2,000.
APPRAISER: It's about $4,000.
APPRAISER: You actually got it right. It's a wonderful example of a tea caddie and hope you enjoy it, it's a terrific one. Well done!
GUEST: Thank you.
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