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Sugar Basket

Westermeyer, Henry
Place Made:
Charleston South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
HOA: 6-1/16″; WOA: 7″; DOA: 4-3/4″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Silver swing-handled sugar basket consisting of an oval body with two lobes on each side. The attached pedestal base features a stepped plinth echoing the shape of body. When in the resting position, the design of the swing handle conforms to the outline of the basket’s body. An engraved band of stylized flowers, foliage, and wrigglework surrounds the body below the lip. A swagged shield is engraved on both sides of the body. The oval top step and shaped lower step of the base are also engraved with decoration–the top step more elaborately engraved band than the lower.

MARK: Struck twice on faces of the shaped base with an intaglip “HW” mark in a rectangular reserve.

MAKER: Henry Westermeyer was listed in Charlestons’ 1790 city directory as a goldsmith at No. 23 Church Street. Neither his will nor his inventory have been located, so it is not known whether or for how long he remained in Charleston. Also unknown is if Henry was of any relation to Andrew Westermeyer (working ca. 1790-1807), who was listed as a silversmith at the same location (23 Church Street) in the 1794 directory. Andrew Westermeyer was British and had become a naturalized American citizen in 1787. See E. Milby Burton, “South Carolina Silversmiths 1690-1860” (Charleston, SC: Charleston Museum, 1967).

FORM: There were several eighteenth- and nineteenth-century variations of silver baskets meant for use at the table, each distinguished by the types of foodstuffs they was designed to hold. Sugar baskets were the smallest form, with bread baskets being the largest and fruit and cake baskets falling between. Sugar baskets were used to hold sugar for tea or sweetening foods. The form seems to have been unusual in American silver, where the sugar bowl was more popular.

Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund in Memory of David Mason