Tiffany & Co. Patinated Copper and Other Metals Japanese Inspired Tea Caddy, NYC, NY, c. 1880
An extraordinary, deep red original patina creates a stunning background for this ginger jar-shaped tea caddy. A layer of copper is applied to the silver body, and through chemical processes, the desired coloring of the copper is achieved. It is extremely rare to find original copper patination in this beautiful state of preservation.
The removable cover is meticulously inlaid with vertical lines of silver with two inlaid horizontal bands of gold. Below the silver neck of the body, inlaid lines fan out as they stretch across the shoulder.
The inlaid silver and gold scenes depict the Japanese deity Daikokuten in the form of a mouse.
Daikokuten is a popular figure in Japan as one of the Seven Gods of Luck. As a symbol of plentiful food, fertility, and wealth... Daikokuten is often shown sitting on bales of rice and surrounded by mice and rats. These point to one of his chief functions. Daikokuten is a god of grain. He is often worshipped as a household god who is connected to the kitchen, but he is also seen as a patron of both farmers and cooks. The rodents who are often seen with him are a symbol of the prosperity he brings. The presence of rats is a sign that there is abundant food.' (1)
The interpretive scene on the tea caddy shows Daikokuten holding a gold abacus and sitting on bales of rice while four mice (or rats) drag away a bale with a gold inlaid rope.
Provenance: Private Collection.
This rare tea caddy is marked underneath TIFFANY & Co/ 3683 M 163/ STERLING-SILVER/ -AND-/ OTHER -METALS/ 193.' It measures 6.25 inches tall, weighs 9.25 troy ounces, and is in excellent antique condition.