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August 17, 2007

Explore 18th-century tea traditions during September lecture at the Museums of Colonial Williamsburg

The Museums of Colonial Williamsburg will host the lecture, “George Washington Sipped Here: Tea and Liberty in Colonial Virginia,” 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12 in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. The program is included in museum admission.

Liza Gusler, products manager in Colonial Williamsburg’s products division, discusses the transformation of the ultimate emblem of domesticity – the teapot— into a symbol of America’s revolt against the tyranny of England. The lecture will utilize illustrations and objects from the Colonial Williamsburg collection, as well as period quotes, documents and inventories from Virginia references, particularly from George Washington.

The lecture will connect with exhibit themes and objects on view in “Revolution and Taste” and the “Canisters, Caddies and Chests: Fashionable Tea Containers of the 18th Century.” “Revolution in Taste” features hundreds of ceramic and metal objects available to consumers in the 18th century. From humble wood and pewter plates to delicate and decorative porcelain cups and silver epergnes, the exhibition covers the variety of wares manufactured in the period that offered colonists a wide range of goods associated with dining, drinking and decoration.

“Canisters, Caddies and Chests”--an exhibition on tea containers--highlights the style and design of these useful and fashionable utensils in the tea ritual. By the 18th century, tea was a social event carried out in many households. Teapots, teacups, sugar bowls and caddies were all necessary for serving proper tea. The tea had to be kept fresh, but also safe from theft. Many early containers were kept in locked chests--the key held by the lady of the house. The containers were made of silver or wood and came in a variety of fashionable designs.

The Museums of Colonial Williamsburg include the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Museum hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. For information call (757) 220-7724.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture — stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic tradespeople research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. Williamsburg is located 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information or reservations, call toll-free 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Internet at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121