Four-Piece Silver Chinese Export Tea & Coffee Service by Khecheong
Coffee pot – height: 27cm,
length: 28cm, weight: 1421g
Tea pot – height: 19cm,
length: 28cm, weight: 1026g
Sugar bowl – height: 14cm,
length: 22cm, weight: 748g
Creamer – height: 17.5cm,
length: 17cm, weight: 572g
Combined weight: 3767g
This somewhat monumental matching set by Khecheong comprises a tall coffee pot, a tea pot, a creamer and a sugar bowl. Each piece is thickly cast in high-grade silver and is heavy in the hand. Each piece is beautifully cast with swirling floral and foliage designs to the sides and to the lids in respect of the tea and coffee pots. Each piece sits on elaborate rococo revival-style style feet and has similarly rococo-style handles, which include ivory insulators in respect of the tea and coffee pots. Both the tea and coffee pots have flower finials on their hinged lids.
The tea pot differs from the rest of the set in that the foliage and floral decoration about the body is more profuse and the flower finial differs from that on the coffee pot. Forbes (1975, p. 126) says that such a difference would be unusual in a Western service but is not surprising in Chinese export silver. Indeed, the slight differences in form and motifs between items of one set is something of a defining feature of Chinese export silver tea and coffee services. Elements might differ but other elements are the same to give the otherwise seemingly disparate pieces definition as a set. The handles of the tea and coffee pots are identical for example. Such differences can perhaps be accounted for by pieces of the one set being produced in different workshops of the same maker.
The sugar bowl does not have a lid, and was not intended to have one.
Each piece, other than the teapot which does not appear to be stamped, is stamped to the base with maker’s marks for Khecheong and pseudo hallmarks.
Khecheong was a maker and perhaps retailer of fine silver between approximately 1830 and 1875. The firm’s premises were at Club Street, Honam Island, south of central Guangzhou, near other well known silversmiths and retailers, such as Leeching and Hoaching.
The overall condition of the service is excellent. There are no splits, dents or repairs.
UK art market
Forbes, H.A.C. et al, Chinese Export Silver 1785-1885, Museum of the American China Trade, 1975.
Chinese Export Silver: The Chan Collection, published in conjunction with the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore, 2005.
Inventory no.: 1166