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Chinese export tea container

Date: 1872 - 1873
Overall: 1161 x 225 x 171 mm
Medium: Wood and paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Tea container
Object No: 00046728

User Terms

    This is thought to be a box for pre-packed tea, first sold in 1826, but not popular until the 1880's, when the demand for tea caddies as functional items gradually disappeared. This tea box was complimented by a Chinese exportware pewter tea pot and tray.
    SignificanceThis tea box represents the Chinese exportation of tea by American, Australia and European merchants. It is a rare example of the packaging of tea for shipment around the world. It highlights the importance of tea as a western commodity in the 19th and 20th century.
    HistoryWestern merchants from America, Australian 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 and fans but by far the most important commodity and cargo was tea.

    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

    (not entered): Chinese Export Tea Container

    Web title: Chinese export tea container

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