Cruet stand with glass bottles

about 1802–18
John Sayre (American, 1771–1852), Or Joel Sayre (American, 1778–1818)

Object Place: New York, New York, United States


24 x 22.5 x 17 cm (9 7/16 x 8 7/8 x 6 11/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View




Silver hollowware

The stand, assembled from sheet soldered together, consists of a base, rectangular with rounded corners, supported by four cast and applied paw feet. A small oval plaque with engraved crest is applied to one side of the base.
Applied to the base are the carrying handle and the support system for six glass bottles. This system has a center column rising to the oval pierced handle, which is decorated with cast and chased leafage; the threaded column pierces the base and is secured with a wing nut underneath. At the top of the column, just below the handle, curved strips flare out and then down and are also secured to and through the sides of the base and underneath with wing nuts. At each side of these strips, three open rings are applied in line and conjoined; those on one side are larger than the three on the other. On the side with the larger rings, two small additional rings are soldered on either side of the center ring. Two of the faceted glass bottles are fitted with perforated silver lids, the others with glass stoppers (one stopper is missing, and one appears to have been cut to accommodate a spoon). The bottles designed to fit the small rings are missing.

Separating the work of brothers Joel and John Sayre is complicated. The division adopted here is based on the categorization of marks by Louise Conway Belden, who also noted that the two men may have used the marks interchangeably. Thus, this cruet stand and two objects that follow (cat. nos. 176 – 77) should probably be considered as the work of either brother.
Cruet stands are relatively rare in American silver. In the colonial period, most examples were imported, probably due to their complicated construction. Early cruets were usually fitted with only two glass bottles for oil and vinegar. By the early nineteenth century, examples like this one commonly contained multiple spaces for glass containers. This stand originally held eight containers in three different sizes. The bottles probably held such condiments as soy, mustard, lemon, ketchup, pepper, cayenne, and other ingredients in addition to the traditional oil and vinegar.

This text has been adapted from “Silver of the Americas, 1600-2000,” edited by Jeannine Falino and Gerald W.R. Ward, published in 2008 by the MFA. Complete references can be found in that publication.


Crest of a knight's arm raised holding a sword on a torse engraved on plaque attached to one side of the base.


"J.Sayre" in shaped rectangle struck twice on base, on each side of center column wing nut. "F." in square on one side. "F." in squre on either side with three pseudohallmarks consisting of a head, lion passand and "D" each in a shaped rectangle.


Early history unknown; given by Llora Bortman in memory of her late husband, noted American silver collector Mark Bortman.

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Llora Bortman in memory of her late husband, Mark Bortman