Saturday, October 1, 2016

My Country, 'Tis of Tea — Rhode Island

Rhode Island is a state that means two things in my mind: Gilded Age mansions and a famous manufacturing center for costume jewelry. Any tea connections in Rhode Island? I found a few!

• Rhode Island is well known for its production of costume jewelry. When I first started collecting tea-themed jewelry, I was pleased to learn how much of it had been produced with teapots and teacups as part of the design. JJ or Jonette was a jewelry company in Providence, Rhode Island, that made both the bracelet and earrings above. The company's owners, the Lisker brothers, got the name by combining the name of their parents, John and Etta, thus the "Jonette" name. Rhode Island continues to be known for its jewelry manufacturing today.

Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

• One of Newport, Rhode Island's most famous Gilded Age homes, Marble House, has its own Chinese teahouse on the property. According to Wikipedia, Marble House was built between 1888 and 1892 for Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt. When she divorced her husband in 1895, Alva Vanderbilt actually owned the home, which had been a 39th birthday gift to her. She remarried and relocated down the street, and when her second husband died, she reopened Marble House and added the teahouse, which was the site of some women's suffrage rallies. Oh, if those walls could talk!

 A teahouse was also featured at the Berwind Estate in Newport, Rhode Island. Now who wouldn't have enjoyed being invited to tea in this teahouse? This linen postcard was mailed in 1942 and says, "Hello Tootsie. I am having a good time. Wish you were here too. I went swimming in the ocean, it's fun. Will be seeing you soon. Rita." Lucky Rita! (And if you're curious, as I was, here's a more modern photo of the teahouse, an image I found on Pinterest.)


  1. I have learned something from every post in this series! Thanks.

  2. Cute tea jewelry! I didn't know much about Rhode Isalnd, but I know a bit more now.

  3. Cute bracelet. Thanks for the new tea facts.


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