Collecting Sweet Sugar Antiques

I don’t think there has ever been a time when we humans didn’t love sweet, do you? Today in our ongoing Secret Life of Antiques series, let’s talk sugar. Because we all love something sweet. Collecting Sweet Sugar Antiques brings elegance and style to any sweet experience and your tabletop. {they sweeten up your life! sorry – couldn’t help myself.}



Collecting Sweet Sugar Antiques




The history of sugar is long and involved. Crusaders who traveled to Palestine found sugar at the trade routes of the Arab world. Supply was short, sugar was extremely expensive. By the tenth century, Venice, always a clearing house for the most luxurious goods, obtained sugar and resold it at exorbitant prices. Sugar cane was also grown on the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain, but so expensive that only nobles could afford it.

It was Christopher Columbus who got interested in planting sugar cane in Hispanolia in the West Indies during his second New World venture. The cane flourished, plantation owners had slaves to do all the work at almost no cost, sadly, and within a generation cane was exported to Europe and created vast fortunes. Over the next three hundred years, taste setters, society hostesses, craftsmen and cooks went to great measures to display and indulge their sweet obsession.




Because sugar came in large pieces and were meant to be broken up and “sifted” before use, the very early sugar containers seem huge to us. This one is one of my very favorites, it’s an exceptional English Blue sugar box with a Shepherd and sheep design in blue and white. This piece dates to the very early 1800’s, around 1820, and has been loved and used, but it’s a beauty!

Collecting Sweet Sugar Antiques


This set again shows the large earlier sugar containers, but this time mostly to show off the wealth of the owner, because anyone who could offer sugar in large quantities was surely wealthy. The sugar pot measures  6″ x 6″ x 5″h.  The exceptional Antique Vincennes Sevres sugar and cream pitcher have hand painted very decorative portraits, on a stunning and very rare to find apple green Sevres background.  From an old chateau estate in Europe. Both pieces have two different stunning original portraits of a lady, delicately and expertly painted by the most accomplished painters of the era.



sevres green hand painted antique sugar box




The fashion for sprinkling fine sugar through a sieve or strainer for a powdered effect led to the development of sugar casters and sugar sifters. Elegant sugar casters, also called muffineers, were used to gently shake a cloud of powdered sugar over French madelines or berries at tea time.  Like this one below, they had a decorative removable top for filling. Most were made of gleaming silver or silver plate, these statement pieces are still much loved and make a fabulous addition to your collection.

Collecting Sweet Sugar Antiques




Sugar sifting spoons appeared around the same time as the casters. Their shape was like that of a ladle, but with elaborate piercings to allow for “scattering” little broken up pieces of sugar over desserts, fruit, and even sometimes drinks. {confession: I’ve never met a sugar sifter spoon I didn’t LOVE!} Some of the favorites we have in our silver collection for sale are the ones below.


Collecting Sweet Sugar Antiques


SQUARE SIFTER SPOON: A most attractive and rare shaped Antique Sterling Silver Sugar Sifter with lovely proportions, this sifter below is an elegant polished silver with piercings to the unusual squared bowl. The curved handle ends in a split as it attaches to the bowl. Marked with a sterling mark of a head in a circle, unfortunately I could not locate the maker by the hallmark after extensive research. {I hate that!}

This collectable beauty dates to the early 1800’s, there is some wear to the bottom inside of the spoon bowl, please see the photos. This piece was used and loved by the family, I bought it from a family estate in Europe, it appears to have been repaired at one point long ago, the handle was re-attached with silver. It’s such a large size and rare shape that I forgave it that, it’s perfectly imperfect. {I can only image the horror of the person who “sifted” a little too hard and had to have it repaired!!}


antique sterling sugar sifter


DUTCH HAND ENGRAVED SPOON: A beautiful asset for any tea table, this early silver sugar sifter confection spoon is exceptional and a rare find. Known as a Saupoudreuse or sugar sifting spoon. This spoon has an exquisite scalloped pierced bowl, and a hand stippled and engraved feminine handle patterned with elegant Louis XVI Rococo styling. Marked for Dutch silver, date letter for 1861.

Collecting Sweet Sugar Antiques




After the sugar cube was invented and then patented by Sir Henry Tate in 1872, all sorts of beautiful tongs and nips were made for the gracious home hostess.  Sir Henry was a genius marketer, he was able to create such a buzz around the sugar cube that they became an instant success.


Collecting Sweet Sugar Antiques


I hope you have enjoyed learning just a tiny bit about Collecting Sweet Sugar Antiques – each one is beautiful, and a delight to collect and use!



Collecting Sweet Sugar Antiques






Shop for the best in French Antiques, furniture with the patina of age, vintage accessories to delight you and your family & friends, and French Country utilitarian pieces. Treasures that make your home fresh, beautiful, inspirational and above all uniquely yours. Visit our shop

13 thoughts on “Collecting Sweet Sugar Antiques”

  1. Dear Lidy, the antiques you sell are gorgeous ,unfortunately you don’t ship abroad ,so bad luck for me.
    Read your blog regularly also because of the background information.

    1. Thank you Anja. I am so happy that you take the time to read the posts, and to leave me comments, dear Dutch friend! I hope you are having a beautiful week!

  2. What an enjoyable blog this morning.I love history. I have never thought about the history of sugar before. I’m so glad to learn all this. Thank you for showing your beautiful antiques too.

    1. Thanks so much for your visit Nancy. It’s always a joy to have to leave a comment. xo

  3. Lidy, I absolutely do! Your collection is stunning, and I so appreciate you sharing the history of sugar and of this fine collection of examples of sugar accessories. Over the years of shopping antique markets here and abroad, I’ve added a few pieces myself. I so appreciate visiting your beautiful blog for its visual treats as well as for the excellent information you share.

    1. Sarah, I knew you might have some of these! They are great fun, not just a pretty face, they can be used to sprinkle little clouds of sugar over madelines and strawberries. Hope you are having a beautiful week!

    1. Rita, they really are so beautiful. I wish we all still used such elegant pieces regularly. Luckily I do have clients who collect the sugar spoons, and use them when they entertain. Hope you are having a happy week!

  4. I have several of these items and enjoy using them! Thanks for this information! Blessings

    1. Sharon, so lucky! They are not just beautiful, but so useful too. xo

  5. Marion

    The antiques are beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
    Joan,Marilyn and Marion

  6. Sharon Crigger-Stokan

    What beautiful items – and the historical information/stories that you shared added so much! It was so interesting to read! I love your blog and how you describe your ‘lovelies’ with all of us! Have a wonderful day, Lidy!

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