Until the early 19th century, sugar was usually sold as sugarloaves, large white cones which had to be snipped into smaller lumps. Silver sugar bowls such as this example would have been used to contain large lumps of sugar, which were served with small silver ‘nips’, or tongs, by cutting the lumps into smaller pieces.
Like many silver tea ware models of this date, this sugar bowl’s form is based on Chinese porcelain teabowls. Sugar bowls made during the 1720-30s often feature covers with raised ring finials, which could be inverted and placed on the table for use as a saucer or spoon rest. The sugar bowl and its lid are engraved with a family crest and marital coat of arms. The crest and husband’s coat of arms are those of Halsted, while the wife’s on the left of the shield are those of Tyler.