The container is oval with a flat base, sides that rise straight, and a flat cover that rises shallowly to a central knob or holder in the form of a pineapple rising from five outspread leaves. The cover and body of the container are joined by a small hinge at the back center of the upper edge. The edge of the base is reinforced by a rolled rim, as is the edge of the cover. The upper and lower edges of the sides are ornamented by broad bands of bright-cut engraving. Wide swags of foliate and floral ornament cover the sides. A large cast pineapple with open leaves forms the knob. Below the pineapple on the cover, toward the front of the container, is the script inscription "Abigail Adams to Benjamin Franklin." The script initials "BF" are engraved within an oval foliate wreath below the keyhole. The character of the inscriptions appears to be consistent with the tea caddy's age.
There is no specific reference to the gift of the object in Franklin's papers, and it does not appear by name in his will or the inventory of his household. However, the article appears to be of such an age that it could have passed between Adams and Franklin. John and Abigail Adams owned an English Sheffield-plated hot water urn (now in the collections of the White House) for use in the service of tea. It may have been purchased during the years Adams served as American minister to England (1785 - 1788. A pair of plated candlesticks with a history of ownership by the John and Abigail Adams was sold in 2006, adding to the number of pieces of plate that are associated with them.