Be the first to guess what the pictured item is by leaving a comment below. If you have your own whatsit, our editors can include it in a future post. Please send an email to and attach a clear picture, the size and any markings. Hopefully, we will be able to identify it for our readers!

The pictured item is approximately 13 1/2 inches high, 8 3/4 inches square.

Note: For those of you who signed up to get notified of each response (by checking the “Notify me of follow-up comments” box in the “Add Comments” section) and find it’s generating too much email, you can unsubscribe to the “Whatsitwednesday” comments by clicking the “unsubscribe” link in the “Whatsitwednesday” email you receive.

Photo: Ahlers & Ogletree Auction Gallery

18 responses to “Happy #whatsitwednesday!”

  1. TRay says:

    Hookman, our similar history with “tea” might explain our answers that tend to have a flair for the fantastical. In another affect, it probably explains my faulty short term memory….I meant to address the locking top. That feature might have been needed to secure, for one, fancy buttons, which, like tea, was a commodity that wasn’t exactly cheap in the era of which we speak. However, the more I try to inhale my own malarkey, the more I agree that this item was for tea….real tea.

  2. DM1 says:

    Perhaps a table top gentlemen’s valet to hold collars in the top and valuables in the drawer. My second guess would be a tea or sugar caddy.

  3. EJC says:

    How about a locker for dining service, silver chargers in the top compartment and silver flatware in the drawer below.

  4. EJC says:

    Whimsical me might suggest a fancy chamber pot, but why the keyed lid?

  5. MeeSoPretty1 says:

    Could make a great humidor with drawer for storing related paraphernalia.

  6. MeeSoPretty1 says:

    Seems most likely to be either a mahogany tea caddy or a sugar chest from the 1900’s.

  7. ponderosa says:

    A commode.

  8. joerae says:

    This is a Locking Tea Caddy….. Tea was locked up, Highly expensive in the 17th & 18th centuries shipped by boat from Japan, China, India and other countries. The unlocking drawer was where you kept your less expensive Sterling Silver tea infusers, strainers and spoons.

  9. Emeril says:

    The lock makes me think jewelry box.

  10. BruceBla says:

    Tea caddy with drawer for mixing bowl

  11. PPiman says:

    A Cellarette – used to store your alcoholic beverages under lock and key.

  12. Hookman says:

    TRay, I think we’re on the same wavelength, and I also, as a ‘yute’, would have used it to stash my favorite ‘tea’.

    Today, I have to agree with clippertwo and describe it as a Tea Caddy. In the 1700s and 1800s , tea was such a rare and valuable commodity that it was generally kept under lock and key. In this example, the actual tea would have been kept in the upper, lockable, round part, and the drawer, with probable ivory appointments, would have stored the utensils used to turn the ‘ green, leafy, substance ‘ into a liquid refreshment. It could also have been black tea, which, at that time, was even more expensive.
    At any rate, it’s a very nice piece, even with what appears to be damage to the front, top, left corner and the crack in the veneer on the front right leg.
    The ball feet are a nice touch, with the front two appearing to be gilded, to match the gilding on the top box.

  13. ashes01 says:

    Topically. Made, I mean. From the tropics.

  14. ashes01 says:

    My first guess would be either tea or sugar caddy. It does have a lock on it and both items were expensive back in those days. But….. Looking at the white columns, it might be a topically made spice cabinet. It looks more like exotic woods too. My guess is spice cabinet.

  15. EJC says:

    Looks like a tobacco humidor on top of a drawer for smoking implements

  16. clippertwo says:

    I would all it a tea caddy !

  17. TRay says:

    This is an organizer for sewing paraphernalia. The little archways allow the seamstress to situate the organizer on a thigh, keeping supplies handy. It appears to have been constructed circa 1875, comprised of ebony and ivory, along with brass. Had I inherited this organizer as a youth hellbent on altering my mind rather than clothes, I surely would have used it to lock away my special “tobacco.”

Leave a Reply

Featured Articles