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Witney Antiques - 17th & 18th century English furniture, antique clocks, period needlework samplers and early embroideries

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A selection of our Tea Caddies currently in stock.

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The first account of the sale of tea in England was in the year 1657. In the following decade tea became available in London coffee houses and was recommended for its health giving effects. The claims for the beneficial effects of tea were fantastic especially since the Great Plague of 1665.

Tea was an expensive commodity. In 1690 tea was sold for £1 per lb and upwards. Compare this with annual salaries: a military officer £60, a clergyman £50, a farmer £40, a common soldier £14 and a laborer £6. Most people resided in the latter category.

Nevertheless by 1700 drinking tea had become fashionable, and in some of the wealthier houses it was part of the daily routine, hence the expression, 'tea time'. The lower classes would frequent pleasure gardens to partake in the luxurious past time and throughout the eighteenth century tea drinking became progressively less expensive and more popular.

Naturally of course craftsmen soon began to give serious attention to the designing and making containers, utensils and furniture to cater for this new activity. Helping to propel tea drinking into a ceremonial event. The word 'caddy' was not in fact used in England until the last quarter of the 18th century, its origin being a corruption of the Malay word 'kati,' a weight equal to one and one fifth pounds avoirdupois.