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M-o-p tea-caddy circa 1770

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The craftsmen producing mother-of-pearl gaming counters and boxes clearly had other orders which they fulfilled with the same energy and expertise. In an earlier article, I described a m-o-p games box made in around 1770; thie box featured in this article must have been made at around the same time, perhaps a little earlier. This was clearly not made for counters - it was probably a jewelry box exported to Europe or perhaps a tea caddy though the pink silk lining suggests it was made to contain jewelry. All the surfaces are decorated with mother-of-pearl. If you look closely you will see that there is a base layer of flat pieces of m-o-p butted together on to a carcase of wood; on top of this there is an overall meander of branches and leaves, adorned with perching birds and very well produced flowerheads. The canted lid has a border of a diaper pattern and all edges have a m-o-p rope-twist line. The box is mounted on the original metal feet; the lid is hinged and the interior is lined with what is probably the original silk. A beautiful present brought home from Canton!

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