A very elegant antique sterling silver tea caddy of oval form with a hinged lid, lock and key. Beautifully hand engraved with flower and swag decoration. Bead borders. The lid has a flush inset hinge and ring top. Weight 332 grams, 10.6 troy ounces. Top 12.2 x 8 cm. Height 8.7 cm. Sheffield 1775. Maker Richard Morton & Co.
Richard Morton was one of the few Sheffield manufacturers who produced silverware prior to the establishment of the Sheffield Assay Office. He is recorded as a working silversmith in 1768 in partnership with William Clayton. His mark “RM” was entered on 16th September 1773, possibly in partnership with John Winter. A fortnight later the two marks “R.M” and “RM & Co” were entered by Richard Morton, Thomas Warris, John Winter, Samuel Roberts, John Elam, Thomas Settle, John Eyre and Nathaniel Smith. It is on record that this firm was not to produce silver candlesticks, that branch of the trade being reserved for John Winter. There may well have been covenants as to non-production of certain other items as all of the partners except Morton and Warris also comprised the partnership of Samuel Roberts & Co. who registered their mark on the same day. The Assay Office day-books show that John Winter & Co. produced buckles as well as their main product of candlesticks, the latter being the sole output of their successors John Parsons & Co. Samuel Roberts & Co’s main output was silver handles, but they too produced candlesticks. Richard Morton & Co. manufactured a wide range of products, but noticeably not candlesticks, buckles or silver handles.