Antique Chinese silver tea caddy

Antique Chinese silver tea caddy

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A charming hand made Chinese silver tea caddy decorated in the aesthetic style, made popular in the latter part of the 19th century. The free-form body has a lift-off cover and is adorned with cast and applied oriental blossoms, branches and foliage. There is an inverted panel hand chased with a bark design.

Chinese export silver was produced in China from the mid-18th to mid-20th century for a largely Western audience. Although the West had been trading in Chinese silks, spices and teas for almost 150 years, in the mid-18th century the market for Chinese export silver flourished when the international trading value of silver fell dramatically.

With Western-inspired forms new, highly desirable works of Chinese export silver were created, with a mix of Western forms and Eastern iconography. During the mid-China Trade period (1840-1880), silversmiths began adding Chinese decorative motifs such as bamboo, dragons or warriors onto typically Western forms. Cranes and dragons are extremely popular motifs. For many thousands of years dragons have symbolised wisdom, harmony and prosperity in China, and in ancient Chinese culture, they represent imperial power.

Wang Hing was was the trading name chosen by the Lo family, an upper-middle-class wealthy merchant family who were specialists in trading jade, who established a retail silversmith business in Canton soon after 1852. The business evolved to become the best known and most prolific maker of export silver during the late China Trade period. Towards the end of the 19th century Wang Hing exhibited silver at international exhibitions and opened a flagship store in Hong Kong in around 1920.

Thank you to Adrien Von Ferscht (皇甫安) for sharing his knowledge. Adrien is considered the leading expert for Chinese export silver acting as an independent consultant and expert to museums, important private collections, academics and enthusiasts around the world.


Height 125 mm / 5 "
Width 85 mm / 3 "
Depth 70 mm / 3"
Weight 346 g (11.12 troy ozs)