Massachusetts Federal Tea Caddy, ca. 1810
This is a tea caddy. It was made by an ancestor of mine six generations back. He made it for his bride-to-be. I believe it was 1810 or around there, because they married in 1810, and the inside has her maiden name, so it would have been...
Yeah, and I would have placed it there stylistically as well. It's a very high federal piece in terms of style. This flame mahogany here on the front, and the panels on the side, a really nice blonde, highly figured mahogany. And then a darker mahogany for the top. The form is sarcophagus form, which was popular, sort of a neoclassical form that came up through the federal period. It has these wonderful little Chippendale-style carved legs, which you don't often see. These usually... you see them resting on a table, or with a simple bracket foot, but this is sort of icing on the cake. Boston has a rich history in tea, obviously, and it was an expensive commodity. So the size and the artistry of your tea caddy could often sort of indicate level of wealth in a family. Do you know what his business was?
I heard somewhere he did furniture, then he also had some positions in the town.
So we see a lot of homemade pieces. This is a masterpiece in terms of craftsmanship. So this is not just a weekend guy puttering around in his shed putting pieces of wood together. The other great thing that I like about this is this panel on the top, which was a gift to his Bride-to-be. And then when we look inside here, we can see that she's actually signed it. This is very nicely done, pen and ink, very accomplished. And this was an opportunity for women to show their skill in craftsmanship and penmanship, needlework, things like that. The image on the top is... it's so sweet and so naive and sort of... it does contrast stylistically, but that's sort of the nice aspect of it, sort of this high-low appeal, which I really like. I wonder if this scene here is actually their wedding party.
I don't know, it could be. I really don't know anything about the scene.
It just looks like... almost like a picnic scene, because it's got the fiddler and the table that's set up, and they look like they're in a circle, doing some kind of a dance or something. It's very nice, and it gives a really nice personal touch to the piece. All things wooden have not been doing very well in the market lately, even pieces with really high style like this. I think in today's market, in an auction setting, we'd be looking at in between $3,000 to $5,000.
I think if we went back a decade, decade and a half, we'd be looking at two to possibly three times that value. The market has come down, but this has so much appeal going for it, I think it would... I think it would do well in any sale.
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