October 16, 2021

Antiques & Collecting: A key for tea

It seems strange today that early wooden tea caddies, special boxes for tea, were made with a lock and key. Tea was a very expensive drink in the 1600s. It gave added energy and after the addition of sugar, milk and sometimes lemon, it had a pleasing taste.

The earliest tea caddies in England were made of porcelain shaped like a bottle with flat sides and a lid. Most were made in Holland.

By the 1700s, there were large tea chests, or caddies, that were made of mahogany, rosewood and other attractive types of wood. The valuable tea was kept in a box decorated with ivory, brass, ebony or silver to show its importance.

Most had two or three sections that held a glass liner for the tea. The tea was served in an important room, so the tea caddy was made to resemble the furniture of the day.

A recent Cottone auction sold an English Tunbridge ware tea caddy with inlay picturing Queen Victoria. The caddy was connected to a pedestal, also decorated with inlay. The impressive tea caddy sold for $2,950.

I’m a retired letter carrier. When my son was born in 1975, one of my patrons gave me a gift of Dewar’s White Label Scotch Whiskey. I’ve never opened it. The bottle is encased in cardboard and is in the original tin box. Is there any value because of its age? Is it still good to drink?

John Dewar & Sons started out as a wine and spirits shop in Perth, Scotland, in 1846. Dewar’s founded a distillery in Aberfeldy, Scotland, in 1898.

White Label Scotch Whiskey was first made in 1899. The company changed hands several times and has been owned by Bacardi since 1998. White Label is Dewar’s most popular brand and a top seller in the United States.

Old liquor in unopened bottles is safe to drink. Some people think older bottles of scotch and other distilled spirits are better than newer ones.

An old bottle of Dewar’s White Label Scotch Whiskey in a tin box sold online for more than $100. Even an old partly full bottle without the box sold for more than a new bottle.

The old tin boxes are collected and sell for near $100. A new, full bottle is about $25. An empty bottle is worth under $10.

Current Prices

Toy, Flintstones train, Bedrock Express, Fred & Wilma in locomotive, stone graphics, tin lithograph, zigzag action, metal bell, Marx, box, 12 inches, $415.

Rug, hooked, album quilt, 6 square panels, multicolored flowers, fruits, birds, black scalloped border, red scroll inner border, 19th century, 107 x 72 inches, $690.

Doorstop, rabbit, sitting up on hind legs, brown, blended paint, embossed leaves on base, cast iron, marked, Bradley & Hubbard, 15 x 8 x 2 3/4 inches, $1,230.

Tip: Don’t wash, set, comb or change the original hair on a vinyl doll. It lowers the value.

Terry and Kim Kovel

For more collecting news, tips and resources, visit www.Kovels.com. © 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.