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THISexquisite little box, a tea caddy, sits on atable in the parlour of the Georgian House inCharlotte Square, Edinburgh.It falls broadly within the genre known asMauchline Ware, a form of decorationapparently invented by James Sandy (1766-1819), who created a system of integralwooden hinges for snuff boxes and tea caddies.He was bedridden for most of his life, andCharles Stiven, from Laurencekirk, took overthe job of manufacturing and marketing hisinvention. It would seem that this examplemight be Stiven's work, bearing, as it does, his stamp.Although some might call the boxMauchline Ware, this is not strictly the case. It is thought a certain William Crawford hadcopied the hinge mechanism from a boxbrought to him for repair in 1810 and taken itssecret back to Mauchline, Ayrshire, where itbegan to be used by the Smith family inmaking boxes. By the 1820s some 50 othercompanies had followed suit.The Georgian House's caddy, though, wouldseem to date from the early years of the genre,when boxes were still being hand-decorated.What makes it particularly interesting is that itis decorated not with some popular view, butwith a coat of arms, that of Sir William Fettes.Fettes was an extraordinary man. Born in1750, he was the son of a grocer based inEdinburgh's Canongate. At 18, following thedeath of his father, he took over the familygrocery shop. In 1787 he married MariaMalcolm, who on New Year's Eve that yeargave birth to their only son, also William. Over the next 20 years Fettes made hisfortune. Seeing a huge opportunity in theNapoleonic Wars, he became Scotland'sleading contractor for provisions for the army.By the age of 50, he had estates acrossScotland. Retiring to look after these, Fettesbecame Lord Provost of Edinburgh. He wascreated baronet in 1804 and the tea caddymust post-date that event.Object of virtueThe William Fettes tea caddyDiscoverTHEGEORGIANHOUSE7 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh EH2 4DR. Tel: 0844 493 2118House 1 Mar to 27 Mar 11-4 MTWTFSS28 Mar to 30 Jun10-5 MTWTFSS1 Jul to 31 Aug 10-6 MTWTFSS1 Sep to 31 Oct 10-5 MTWTFSS1 Nov to 30 Nov 11-3 MTWTFSSFor more information on the GeorgianHouse Iain GaleIn 1815, tragedy struck. His son died oftyphoid in Berlin, on a tour of Europe, agedonly 27. always involved in charity, Fettes hadintended that money from his estate shouldpay for a hospital but he later decided to createa school for orphans and the needy. In his willhe made a bequest, which was to lead to thefoundation of Fettes College.After his death in 1836 the bequest wasinvested and within 25 years the Trustees haddecided that with £166,000 there was enoughcapital to acquire land, found a school, andfund scholarships.Fettes College opened in 1870, with 53pupils. By 1875 there were 200 boys and todayFettes is one of the most prestigious schools inthe country; home to more than 700 boys and girls.It is probable the tea caddy was acquired inthe 1970s when David Learmonth set up theGeorgian House using bequests and loans. It isa happy association, for in 1807 Fettes hadmoved into 13 Charlotte Square, where hisneighbours were Lord Cockburn and Sir JohnMarjoribanks. The tea caddy not only fits perfectly into theinterior of the house but it shows that everyobject in the Trust's collection has a story totell and the power to draw our thoughts tomore far-reaching subjects. lCOLLECTIONS36SPRING 2012WWW.NTS.ORG.UK