Sugar bowl

about 1800
W. G. Forbes (died in 1796)

Object Place: New York, New York, United States


Overall: 18.2 x 16.5 x 10.5 cm (7 3/16 x 6 1/2 x 4 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View




Silver hollowware

The sugar bowl has a seamed oval body, curved cushion shoulder, and a slightly convex side; it rests on an oval foot ring. The conforming separate lid has a boat-shaped urn finial and is fitted with pendant ring handles descending from shell-like cast scrolls. A band of bright-cut engraving is at the shoulder of the bowl, and a bright-cut engraved medallion on the front.

With its ring handles and refined form, this sugar bowl was made by William Garrett Forbes, patriarch of a distinguished New York City silversmithing family. It represents one of the successful variations on the form produced during the federal period. As Deborah Dependahl Waters has pointed out, the lower profile and gentle curves of this style of bowl, also seen on a closely related three-piece tea set in the collection of the Museum of the City of New York, represent a slightly later evolution of the more vertical, geometric forms of a few years earlier.

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.


"W" engraved inside bowl; "13" scratched on base. Engraved on side within an ellipse with a crest of a griffen on a torse, above the motto "EN DIE EST TOUT"; the ellipse on the other side is unengraved


"W.G. Forbes" in script in a rectangle and with an eagle's head, struck on bottom.


History unknown prior to its gift by Mrs. James Stuart Smith of North Chatham, Massachusetts.

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. James Stuart Smith