Exhibit in detail: musical box with two tea caddies and mixing bowl

Today our traditional column "Exhibit in Detail" features a story about amazing musical box with two tea caddies and mixing bowl.

Tea caddies first appeared in Europe as porcelain vessels in which tea was imported from China. In the 18th century, when tea consumption was a luxury, tea caddies were often made of expensive materials and decorated with silver, ivory, and tortoise shells. By the 1780s, when tea became more affordable, the size of tea caddies became larger, a tea caddy in England turned into wooden casket with lock, with box for storing tea inside, glass bowls for sugar and for mixing tea (the sugar bowl was larger).

The music box we are going to talk about today was made by a British craftsman in 1800-1810s. The box is in the form of a chest made of sycamore wood, inside which there are two tea caddies with lids and a glass bowl for mixing tea in the centre. The box is decorated with the pattern in the form of thistle leaves and flowers executed in black ink with a pen on the sides. It stands on four spherical brass legs. Goldish metal handles in the form of mascarones representing lions, with rings are on the casket sides. A company singing “On Fastin-e'en -Fasten's Even” is depicted on the lid external side.

A stanza from "Epistle to John Lapraik (1727-1807), the old Scottish bard" (1785) by Robert Burns (1759-1796) appears at the bottom of the image. The lid inner side covered with red coloured cloth. A musical movement with spring motor, spin rate governor, metal cylinder for two tunes and a steel comb with sixty one separately fixed tuned pins. The comb is stamped to indicate the number of pins tuned to every note, starting with the lowest. The mechanism of the box is described in Arthur Ord-Hume book "The Music Box. A Collector's Guide”. С. 59, illus. 6-7").

An aperture with stud for winding the mechanism is on the left side panel, a lever for switching on the musical mechanism is in the center under the front panel. When the spring engine is activated one from two tunes in the rhythm of Reel sounds – the Reel of Tullochgorum or Marquis Huntly Reel.
The set includes a tasselled lock key, winding key, two tea caddies and glass bowl.