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A China trade tea caddy in the form of a globe

Date: Early 19th century
Overall: 160 x 90 x 90 mm, 0.58 kg
Medium: Pewter
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Tea caddy
Object No: 00033600
Place Manufactured:Guangzhou

User Terms

    This pewter tea caddy in the shape of a globe was produced in China for trade. The continents and oceans are labeled with Chinese characters. The globe has a hinged lid and is attached to a turned circular base. China produced a wide variety of wares for domestic and foreign trade during the 19th century, with the ports of Canton and Swatow being busy centres of commerce.
    SignificanceThis tea caddy is an excellent example of pewter ware produced for the China trade market. The display of the continents alongside Chinese characters indicates China's presence in world trade at the time, at the centre of the lucrative tea trade between western and Chinese merchants.
    HistoryMerchants from America, Australia and Europe were active in trade with China during the 19th and 20th century. On their ships they brought back trade items including metal domestic wares, cloth, paintings, furniture, spices, carvings, fans and tea. Many products could be produced cheaply and well in China when compared to western manufacturers. As a result many wealthy homes and merchants during the period possessed items that were produced in China.

    Pewter was one of the various materials utilised by Chinese artisans for centuries before it began to be adapted to western tastes and designs. Chinese paintings of Canton, now known as Guangzhou depict the port with many pewter shops selling a variety of western and domestic objects, including tea caddies, teapots, trays and figures.

    The important Chinese port of Canton was actively involved in commerce from the 13th century, being the first Chinese port to accept foreign trade. In 1685 the British East India Company established a 'factory', district of residences and businesses in the port. By the 18th century a number of other nations including France, the Netherlands and America had also built similar precincts. During the 1820s tension between the westerners and the Chinese government and merchants was growing. This led to a series of conflicts known as the Opium Wars and the establishment of a number of treaties, including the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842, the Treaty of Bruges in 1843 and the Sino-American Treaty of Wangsia in 1844. The treaties allowed foreigners to establish trading factories and European settlements inside Chinese cities such as Canton. However tensions between westerners and the Chinese remained a constant issue in trade negotiations.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: A China trade tea caddy in the form of a globe

    Web title: A China trade tea caddy in the form of a globe

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