The Venesta product seemed to be the answer to all that was required in a tea chest.
The wood used for tea chests must be as inert as possible, without sap that could corrode the metal lining in which the tea was packed. It should be seasoned, so as not to warp when hot tea leaves were packed in it, and free of odour. The plywood should not delaminate. The box needed to be as light as possible and collapsible for the return shipment when empty.
Venesta first produced lead linings for the chests in 1900 in Limehouse, London, then, from 1905, near Calcutta (now Kolkata), where they switched to aluminium.
The chests were made using Luther’s standard board sizes and the boards were joined together at the corners using internal solid wood battens and external metal strips that were hammered into the boards.
The Venesta tea chests were instantly successful. By 1901, 60,000 were shipped to Britain each month and demand exceeded supply.
Adapted from “Plywood – A material Story” produced by Christopher Wilk for the V&A Museum.
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