A GEORGE III SILVER TEA TUB (CADDY), THOMAS HEMING, LONDON, 1766
square, imitating a wooden Chinese tea chest, engraved to the sides in the workshop of Robert Clee with simulated planks and twice repeated Chinese pictograms for 'Yi' (righteous, patriotic and justice) and 'Chang' (prosperous, glorious and good) within borders of scroll foliage on a linear ground, the flush-hinged lid with cast flower sprig finial and similarly bordered
9.4cm wide, 410gr (13oz)
For an another caddy with the same engraving (including the border details), but with a differing finial, marked Aaron Lestourgeon, 1768, see the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, No.WA1955.46 and another similar sold Sotheby's, New York, 16 April 2005, lot 274, marked Parker & Wakelin four times, circa 1770.
Examples of this model of caddy or canister (called a 'tea tub' at the time) appear between about 1765 and 1773, many with Lestourgeon's maker's mark. Helen Clifford, in her book Silver in London: The Parker and Wakelin Partnership 1760-1776, (Yale University Press, 2004) reconstructs the fascinating system of outworkers who produced these caddies for Parker & Wakelin. The bodies were formed from sheet by Ansill and Gilbert or by Aldridge and Woodnorth for £1 8s. each, the former also supplying three sizes of sprig finial. Aaron and William Lestourgeon then fitted the locks and lined the interiors in lead for 5s. each. The borders and characters were subsequently engraved in Robert Clee's workshop, opposite Parker & Wakelin's shop in Panton Street, before delivery to the retailer. It would seem the process, from start to finish, took under three weeks. Apparently they were retailed by Parker & Wakelin for about £9. The same procedure would have been followed for the supply of these caddies to another leading goldsmiths of the day, Thomas Heming, who had been appointed Principal Goldsmith to the King in 1760.
'The career of one specialist silver engraver, Robert Clee (c.1710-1773), has been studied in depth by Robert Barker. In addition to silver, Clee engraved a number of signed trade cards, including those of the chemist Richard Sidall and the goldsmith Thomas Heming. Barker has demonstrated that Clee's establishment, which included both apprentices and outworkers, provided extensive engraving services for the prominent London retailers Parker and Wakelin as well as for Thomas Heming. Although it is impossible to distinguish among the various engravers he employed, it seems likely that much of the best silver engraving carried out during this period passed through Clee's workshop.' (Beth Carver Wees, English, Irish & Scottish Silver and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, New York, 1997, pp. 338-340)
Interestingly Robert Clee's will (National Archives, PROB 11/987) stipulates: 'I give and bequeath to Mr Parker Mr Wakelin and Thomas Heming Esquire a Diamond Ring Each of the value of Ten pounds to be made by themselves'.
£2000 - 3000 Click here for details of BP and other fees payable on this lot.