I know, I know, I have a thing about boxes, especially if they consist of tea caddies and I have often blogged about them. But here is a sensational example of a caddy set, in a beautiful wooden box, shown on Mark Goodger’s Hampton Antiques site.
The box is a beauty, veneered in Mahogany with a chequered tulip wood cross banding all round. The top has a gilded carry handle but it is when you open the lid and look inside that you see the real quality – a matching silver gilt service. The Hampton’s site describes it as “a tea caddy, jug, and caddy bowl; each with square pyramid-shaped cut-glass sides, radiating design to the bases, and silver gilt reeded band. The jug features an interesting Greek key handle.”
There is also a pair of matching silver gilt sugar tongs. The silver gilt edging to the glass has an 1803 hallmark and the silversmith is given as William Rudkins, He died in 1807 and his burial is noted at St Luke, Finsbury. He was 57 years old when he died and had previously practised as a silversmith from Gee Street in Middlesex. His son James was also a silversmith.
I cannot be sure about the maker of the glass ware, but my hunch is that the pieces may well have come from John Blades, Glass Manufacturer of 5, Ludgate Hill. I have come across other pieces which resulted from a shared Blades/Rudkins cooperation. John Blades opened his Ludgate Hill showrooms in 1783 and remained there until his death in 1829. He was appointed Cut Glass Manufacturer to George III and was known as ‘the great glass man of Ludgate Hill’. The National Portrait Gallery has a portrait of him wearing the robes of the Sheriff of London and Middlesex. According to the Burghley Collections site his was the first glass company to open a branch in India, in Calcutta, and was famously commissioned to create a great glass Gothic tomb for the Nabob of Oudh. So now you know! More to the point he made wonderful chandeliers, and was a master of manufacturing the sort of glassware shown in this caddy box.
The whole thing makes for a beautiful item – I don’t have a spare £9,500 – unfortunately! But if I had, it would be my Christmas present to myself. Stunning.