Tea Caddy Manufacturer: Gorham Manufacturing Company (American, founded 1831)


American Decorative Arts

On view, 1st floor, American Decorative Arts before 1900

American manufacturers helped fuel the popular interest in Japanese aesthetics that resulted from renewed trade between Japan and the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century. Some companies imported Japanese wares while others, like the Gorham Manufacturing Company, produced luxury items that were inspired by—and sometimes overtly appropriated—Japanese culture. In 1883 Gorham debuted a line of decorative housewares called Banko Iron Ware, which included this tea caddy, a fanciful amalgamation of a few Japanese craft traditions. The name of the line comes from Banko ware, a type of ceramic made with an iron-rich clay that turns reddish brown to black when fired. Gorham’s version was fabricated from patinated sheet iron that references Meiji-era metalwork. The silver appliqués on the tea caddy derive from various woodblock-print sources, while the applied initials appear as if rendered by a brush and ink. Even the object’s function of holding tea would have evoked Japan for its owner, forming an imagined link to a culture she or he would likely never experience firsthand.


Patinated sheet iron, sterling silver


6 3/8 × 3 9/16 × 3 5/16 in. (16.2 × 9 × 8.4 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of the Associates in Fine Arts, by exchange

Accession Number



19th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.

  • "Acquisitions, January 1994–December 1995," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (1995–96), 132–33, ill
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

tea caddies


"(anchor in shield)/ GORHAM & CO/ W 27/P/STERLING/ & IRON"

Technical metadata and APIs


Open in Mirador

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