Tea caddy

Object Number: 
1982.63a-c
Date: 
1880
Medium: 
Silver, bronze (niello), copper, ivory, gold
Dimensions: 
Overall: 4 1/4 x 5 1/8 x 3 1/4 in. ( 10.8 x 13 x 8.3 cm ) Silver Weight, ivory and other metals: 12 oz (troy) 8 dwt (
Marks: 
engraved: on base: "M I M" in script stamped: on base: "TIFFANY & Co/ 6019 M 2104/ STERLING SILVER/ -AND-/ OTHER METALS"
Description: 
Wrought and seamed silver tea caddy in the Japanese style using the mokume technique; rectangular body formed with convex sides and concave top and base; surface covered with a marbleized brass and copper alloy, resembling burled wood; vertically applied, plain rim; gilt interior; flat silver interior lid with engraved and chased lotus leaf and floral decoration and a small knob finial applied in the sunken center; outer lid is slightly domed with chased and engraved entwined floral decoration on the top and a Greek-key band around the sides; carved ivory finial is a Japanese netsuke in the form of a dog; concave base engraved, "M I M" in script; makers' marks on the base.
Gallery Label: 
After Commodore Matthew Perry's 1853 mission to Japan, Americans became fascinated by Japanese art, culture, and design. The vogue for things Japanese inspired American artists, designers, and manufacturers. Chief among the firms that produced Japonesque goods was Tiffany & Co., which led the way in creating silver, such as this tea caddy, that interpreted Japanese metalworking techniques with a uniquely American aesthetic. The complex surface treatment, mokumé gane, literally "wood grain metal" in Japanese, was used on the exterior of the caddy. Mokumé gane is made from soldered sheets of copper, gold, silver, and bronze hammered and rolled together to create the appearance of wood grain. Tiffany & Co. plant records suggest that this caddy was unique, although its pattern drawing notes that finials or "tops" could be silver, jade, ivory, or wood "as ordered."
Credit Line: 
Gift of Mr. Robert G. Goelet
Provenance: 
Descent unknown; purchased by Robert G. Goelet from the Lyndhurst Corporation, New York, New York, in 1982.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group