Nutmeg grater

Ebenezer Moulton (American, 1768–1824)

Object Place: Boston or Newburyport, Massachusetts, United States


7.62 x 6.35 cm (3 x 2 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View




Silver hollowware

Made in three parts in faux barrel form, when assembled the grater has four sets of applied bands over the simulated staves. A small ring handle is applied on one side at the center of the middle section. With a twist release, the small bottom section separates to allow access to the large center section, which is designed to hold the nutmeg and is fitted at its top with a perforated grater. The top, also fitted with a twist release, comes off.

This small but elegant nutmeg grater was owned originally by Elizabeth Derby and was probably commissioned by her after her notorious divorce from Nathaniel West in 1806 and before her death in 1814. It was a small part of a diverse range of American-made and imported English silver and Sheffield plate owned by the wealthy Derby-West family of Salem and Danvers.

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.


"ED" in script engraved on bottom


"MOULTON" struck on lid


Probably owned originally by Elizabeth Derby (1762 – 1814), m. Nathaniel West in 1783. Descended in the family and included as part of a large body of Derby-West family material, much of it owned originally in the mansion known as Oak Hill and given by the donor in 1972.

Credit Line

Gift of Richard Edwards