As Precious As Gold: Homewood House Museum Exhibit Celebrates Tea Caddies

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Did you know that in the early 1700’s, tea was as precious as gold? Its journey from China to England, Europe and America was arduous and long, and because it was quickly becoming the most popular fashion to drink tea, it was extremely valuable.

Artisans who worked in silver, porcelain, and even wood were called on to create containers to hold the tea, and because of its value, they often did their best work making the containers or, as they became known, caddies. The word “caddy” comes from comes from the Malay Chinese “kati,” which means a measure of tea weighing about a pound and a third.

Broadway author and director, and Maryland native, Mark Bramble, has continued his mother’s passion for collecting tea caddies as he traveled the world with shows including “42nd Street” and “Barnum.” He has assembled some of the best and most iconic caddies at an exhibit at Homewood House Museum, from now until December 31, 2017.

This exhibition features 150 tea caddies, demonstrating the array of designs and giving superb examples of teaware drawn from private lenders and Homewood’s permanent collection. Maryland’s historical connections to tea are also explored, including the 1774 tea parties in Annapolis and Chestertown that presaged the American Revolution.

Bramble’s collection takes the visitor through the decades, styles and materials that defined tea caddies, and the displays, in the beautiful rooms at Homewood, just shine.

The exhibit is on view 11 am – 4 pm Tuesday–Friday, noon – 4 pm Saturday – Sunday ( the last tour departs at 3:30 pm)/Included with guided museum tour admission.

Meg Fielding

Meg Fielding writes the local interior design and lifestyle blog Pigtown Design. She enjoys dual citizenship with the US and the UK.


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