Sugar bowl, Sheffield plate, ca. 1780, English
Vase shaped, chased and embossed with acanthus leaves below and pierced with vertical slits. Garlands and square borders above. Circular foot with acanthus border, swing handle and pearled edges.
This type of sugar bowl was standard by about the 1780s. At this time sugar bowls were vase-shaped, often pierced, and had coloured glass liners. Silver pierced work was very popular in the mid 18th century, when the Sheffield plating industry was just getting under way. Silversmiths traditionally used fretsaws for pierced work. However, the fretsaw was quite unsuitable for Sheffield plate, which was a fusion of silver and copper. Its teeth ripped the silver surface, exposing the copper core and leaving a jagged edge. The solution was to use a fly punch. This consisted of a large screw, secured in a frame, which had a large cross bar at the top with weights at either end. The machine worked on the same principle as an early printing press by translating a horizontal movement into a vertical downward thrust. The lower end drove a hardened steel cutting tool, shaped to the pattern required, directly through the surface of the metal in one operation. This dragged the silver skin over the copper core and concealed it.
Location: In Storage