Fig. 1. George III marquetry tea chest, circa 1766. (Mark Goodger)
This stunning tea chest is veneered in harewood (and other colours of stained sycamore), crossbanded with tulipwood and kingwood, and strung with boxwood. Penwork leaf decoration runs round the satinwood moulding on the lid. The marquetry on each face of the chest comprises flowers and foliage enhanced with penwork.
Each of the four sides contains a satinwood medallion characterising a god of Greek mythology: The front with a lyre and floyera alludes to Apollo, god of music and poetry. The medallion on the right side contains a cannon, flag, spear and shield, alluding to Athena, goddess of arts and literature. The back medallion contains a quiver and arrow, symbolising Artemis, goddess of chastity, hunting and nature. The left side medallion comprises a book, callipers and a straight edge, representing Hermes, god of commerce and protector of travellers, thieves and athletes.
Fig. 2. Right and back faces. (Mark Goodger)
Fig. 3. The lid bears the initials ‘EW’ beneath a silver handle. (Mark Goodger)
The handle and hinges are marked with the initials ‘GB’ – for London silversmith George Baskerville for the years 1762-1768. The escutcheon is also silver.
The chest contains a set of three Georgian silver containers, each of plain oblong design with gadrooned borders and moulded plinths.
Fig. 4. Fitted interior with silver containers. (Mark Goodger)
The two tea caddies have domed covers with finials and sliding bases. The larger sugar container has a hinged lid and all three are engraved with a family crest and marked for London Silversmiths John Langford II & John Sebille and the letter ‘L’ for the year 1766.
(Edited from Mark Goodger’s description.)
An absolutely cracking tea chest!
I could be eternally happy to own this little gem.
Workmanship of the highest order.
One of the nicest pieces you’ve shown us in a slew of nice pieces lately.
I have not heard the term “penwork” before. Is this Pyrography?
No, pyrography involves burning the wood with a heated tool. Penwork is the use of a pen and ink.