Decorated with whimsical scenes showing the harvesting of sugar cane, this box was probably part of a set that included containers for green and bohea (black) tea. Tea was an expensive commodity during the eighteenth century, and such canisters were often stored in a locked, fitted case made of mahogany or shagreen (shark skin). The scenes of exotically dressed sugar harvesters are surrounded by abstract organic ornament that suggests a grotesque face—a juxtaposition that is characteristic of Paul de Lamerie’s workshop.
Inscription:  "48=6 sett" scratched with very fine point on underside (probably 18th century)  "3104, £4x/d/h,  scratched with a fine point on underside (dealer's price in a code; probably 19th or 20th century; possibly means £40, 4 shillings, eight pence, for three).
Marking:  Lion passant (English quality mark for sterling);  Leopard's head crowned (London assay office mark);  i, in shield (London date letter for 1744–45);  P L (script) crown above, pellet between and below (maker's mark for Paul de Lamerie, entered 1739).
Reverend Alfred Duane Pell (until 1925; bequeathed to MMA)