Federal Style Covered Sugar Bowl
Federal Style Covered Sugar Bowl

Federal Style Covered Sugar Bowl

Christian Wiltberger (American, 1766 – 1851)
Circa 1800
Sterling silver
Work : 9 7/8 x 4 1/4 x 4 1/4 in. (25.08 x 10.8 x 10.8 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton
Object Number

This covered sugar bowl was made by Philadelphia silversmith Christian Wiltberger sometime around 1800. The bowl is a good example of the so-called “Federal Style” that was popular in American architecture, furniture and decorative arts from the 1780s to the 1820s. The Federal Style is characterized by minimally decorated forms that are inspired by ancient Greek and Roman prototypes. It is meant to be a visual expression of the democratic ideals and values that inspired the founding of the United States.

The bowl and cover consist of four separate parts: the bowl’s pedestal, the bowl’s body, the lid’s body and the lid’s finial. Except for the lid’s finial which was cast in a mold, the other parts were beaten into shape by hand using a variety of different hammers and wooden form-molds to create the elegantly curved shapes. The bowl is relatively large for its function. Given that the silver used to make the bowl and the sugar that would have filled it were both expensive in late 18th-early 19th century America, the bowl would also have functioned as a status symbol for its owner, identifying him or her as a member of the economic and social elite.

Object Type