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Tea, when it first arrived in any quantities in Georgian England, was a luxury commodity, commanding very high prices. It was grown on plantations in China, India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), transported across the oceans, and sold in small quantities by specialist importers. Its trade was a monopoly of the East India Company, and high taxes - 119% until 1784 - made it even more prohibitively expensive. In households that could afford it, tea was kept in a locked caddy, along with almost equally precious sugar, and the lady of the house kept the key. The caddy spoon, is a practical tool for measuring the tea into the teapot, became, by the late eighteenth century, an equally expensive and covetable item, usually made from silver or Old Sheffield Plate. As gifts caddy spoons were ideal, as they could be of any pattern, and did not have to match the silver cutlery on the table.
William Walter Antiques Ltd
London Silver Vaults