Dutch silver tea caddy

  • Dutch silver tea caddy,Jacobus Jongsma, Leeuwarden, 1718
About This Project

Dutch silver tea caddy


Jacobus Jongsma

Leeuwarden, 1718

93 grams, 12,5 cm high

The baluster-shaped and fluted body is embossed with a border of stylised acanthus leaves and lambrequins. Bordered with gadrooning at the neck, at the circular foot rim and at the rim of the detachable cover. Fully marked at the reverse; date letter struck at the neck rim and displaying assay stripes at the reverse, footrim, neck rim and interior of the cover. 


The silversmith

Jacobus Jongsma, son of Yme Jongsma, a goldsmith, and Hiske Encudides, was christened on 2 March 1686 in Leeuwarden. In 1697 he started his apprenticeship with Johannes van der Lely, a well-known Leeuwarden silversmith and in 1707 he became a master silversmith himself. In 1711 he married Bauke Sterringa, after he had bought a house at ‘Het Nauw’ in 1710. Jongsma was not only a silversmith, but also a civil ensign bearer and member of the town council from 1712 until his death in 1726. He was also an alderman from 1721-1724.

Jacobus Jongsma’s profane silverwork resembles the silverwork by other Leeuwarden silversmiths, such as Andele Andeles, Hans Atsma and Johannes van der Lely, who made similar tea caddies. The specific ornament on this tea caddy also appears in Johannes van der Lely’s silverwork, who actually was his teacher. Jacobus Jongsma made part of ‘Leeuwarder Stadszilver’, silverwork for the town hall, comprising 18 sets of spoons, forks and knives and 2 serving spoons and 2 fish ladles. Jongsma made 16 pairs of forks and spoons from 1723 till 1725 for the city, engraved with the coat of arms of Leeuwarden.


The collection of the Ottema-Kingma Foundation (OKS) obtained a silver teakettle, made by Jacobus Jongsma. The teakettle is now in the Fries Museum. The teakettle and this tea caddy display the same specific ornamentation. A Bible with golden mounts and clasps, made by Jacobus Jongsma is also in the collection of OKS and it is on display in the Museum Martena in Franeker, the former house of Suffridus Westerhuis (1668-1731), the former owner of the bible.


Tea culture in the Netherlands

Due to merchants of the East India Company (VOC), who came across tea ceremonies in China and Japan, tea was introduced in the Netherlands. They saw potential in this commodity and started transporting large quantities to Amsterdam, where it was stored in canal houses and then auctioned at high prices. Therefore, tea used to be an exclusive drink for the higher classes. Initially, tea was considered to be a medicinal beverage, which was promoted by doctors like Anthoni van Leeuwenhoek, Boerhave, Tulp and Bontekoe. Tea would purify the blood, stimulate the mind and thus enrich the East India Company stakeholders. At the end of the seventeenth century tea was still a luxury product, drunk by wealthy ladies, who organised tea parties. In the beginning of the eighteenth century the popularity of tea increased. A special room in the house and even outside the house was furnished with a tea table and all the necessary accessories. Still standing tea domes at the river Vecht are relics of our tea drinking past. The accessories consisted of precious porcelain and silver items, which stressed the high status of tea. Silversmiths were commissioned to make small silver pots and large silver water kettles with burners on stands. Hot water from the latter ones was poured into the small silver pots, containing the tea. Furthermore, tea caddies and tea chests with two or three silver caddies were ordered, for several tea blends.


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Associate literature:

E. Voet Jr., Merken van Friesche Goud- en Zilversmeden, Den Haag, 1932

-J.W. Frederiks, Dutch Silver, Vol IV, Den Haag, 1961

-A. Wassenbergh en E. J. Penning, Merken van Friese Goud- en Zilversmeden door E. Voet jr., Den Haag, 1974

-Tent. Cat., Catalogus Fries Museum Leeuwarden, Fries Zilver, Arnhem, 1985