Sugar sifter

William Gale & Son (active 1850–1858 and 1863–1866), William Gale, Sr. (American, 1799–1864), William Gale, Jr. (American, 1825 or 1831–1885), Retailed by Henry B. Stanwood (1818–1868)

Object Place: New York, New York, United States

Catalogue Raisonné

190, Falino and Ward


6.4 x 20.2 cm (2 1/2 x 7 15/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


On View

Waleska Evans James Gallery (Gallery 236)




Silver flatware

The sifter has a stamped gothic-style pattern with pointed arches, quatrefoil, crockets on stem front and back; threaded sides front and back, upturned stem end; round bowl perforated with circles and stars.

Known by the 1750s, sugar sifters were produced in many flatware patterns by the 1850s. As in this example, they were about the size of sauce ladles, although the latter often had rounded bottoms, whereas sifters were flat bottomed. This sugar sifter and sauce ladle are in the Gothic pattern that was first patented in 1848 by William Gale and partner Nathaniel Hayden. The mark of Gale & Son on the ladle indicates that Gale retained the patent in his next partnership with his son. Although made in New York, these objects were retailed by Henry B. Stanwood in Boston (see also cat. nos. 210, 231).
Taking its vocabulary from architectural details, the Gothic-revival style was used to design nonecclesiastical wares for secular, domestic use during its surge of popularity in the 1840s and 1850s. Thereafter, it was largely limited to ecclesiastical objects.

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.


"LA to EMB" in script on the back of the stem.


Stamped manufacturing logo of William Gale & Son, "G&S (in an oval) / circle / 1850 (in a diamond)" and "Henry B. Stanwood" stamped in a rectangle on the back of the stem and "Patented 1847" in uppercase letters stamped in an oblong rectangle.


History unknown prior to 1982, when given to the Museum.

Credit Line

Gift of Robert F. Trent in memory of Emma Sophie Trent (1881-1966)