A wonderful example, this tea caddy features a domed, hinged lid, decorative finial, and hanging, engraved foliate decoration. The body consists of eight horizontal lobes engraved with complementary foliage. An applied base has recesses lining up with the body, engraved with similar foliate decoration.
Tea and silver were very expensive back in the 1850s, and a caddy this large would convey wealth and the importance of tea in people's lives and social interactions.
John Rudolph Wendt is well known today as Ball, Black & Co.'s independent master silversmith, working much like John & Edward Moore did with Tiffany & Co. before they were subsumed by Tiffany in 1869. However, very little is known of Wendt's formative years in Boston. After arriving from Germany, he quickly gained a reputation as a highly-skilled designer and chaser (1) and soon was a partner with Augustus Rogers, a seasoned silversmith who wholesaled his silver to many local retail firms. (2)
In Leading Pursuits and Leading Men (1856), Edwin T. Freedley notes that Rogers and Wendt: 'are said to be the largest exclusive manufacturers of hollow silver-ware in Boston, and probably in the Union…they are prepared to receive orders from all parts of the United States, and execute them with fidelity and dispatch.' (3)
For coffee and tea services with the marks of Rogers & Wendt and retailer Jones, Shreve, Brown & Co., see here and here. George B. Jones, Benjamin Shreve, and Seth E. Brown are part of a long chronology of successful Boston businesses which evolved into the famous Shreve, Crump & Low.
This excellent tea caddy is marked underneath twice 'JONES, SHREVE, BROWN & CO' and with 'J.S.B&CO/ PURE COIN/ BOSTON' and Rogers & Wendt's eagle trademark. It measures 5.5 inches long by 4 inches wide by 5.25 inches high, weighs 14.35 troy ounces, has never been monogrammed, and is in very good antique condition. There is a small bump imperfection created in the making. You can see it in the second to last picture on the left side of the cover.
Edwin T. Freedley, Leading Pursuits and Leading Men: A Treatise on the Principal Trades and Manufactures of the United States, showing the Progress, State and Prospects of Business…, (Philadelphia: Edward Young, 1856), p. 397.
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