Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Easter Sweetness

Easter is looming and with most of us having a four day weekend it is a chance to spend time with family and friends. Of course, this is the most important time in the Christian calendar and our churches will see more visitors than at most other times of the year.
The Easter Bunny is a confusing and quaint character. Image via.
Once the religious observances are out of the way most of us will get down to the serious business of chocolate. Chocolate eggs, bunnies, ducks or just plain old chocolate.


In my home as a child I would wake up and gather up the chocolate hidden in all corners of the house. It was not uncommon for my family to be finding marshmallow, jelly beans and candy eggs I’d somehow missed, far into summer. I truly believed the Easter Bunny was an excellent hider.

The power of chocolate and all things sweet is proven by the fact that, rather than being disturbed that a six foot bunny had been roaming my house while I slept, I instead focused on the final reward.

Of course, I am not alone in my love of sweet things. We have been sweetening things up since long before I came along.

This brings me to the object I have been considering today; the sugar caster.
A pair of sterling silver casters from 1923 and 1925. Click here to view on our website.
To satisfy our sweet tooth, we have been using sugar for centuries. First imported to England around the 16th century, it has become our favourite way to sweeten things up. Although honey was produced on our own shores, sugar became our preferred product to add sweetness to our food.

With the import of this new product from the West Indies came the need to design a vessel suitable for dispensing it in a convenient way. Although sugar was used in baking and confectionary it was also being shaken over food as well.
A Victorian sterling silver caster from our sister shop, David Shure. Click here to view on their website.
During the 1600s sugar would be stored in sugar boxes and the use of baskets and bowls did not really feature until the 18th century. Although a few examples of sugar casters made before 1850 do exist, they are extremely rare. Most sugar casters to be found were produced in the 19th and 20th centuries and they are still being made today. Also made at that time were sifter spoons which had pierced bowls and could be used to sift sugar from a sugar basket or bowl.

Most antique sterling silver casters were made in a cylinder shape with a removable pierced lid. Through these pierced holes you were able to cast sugar more easily over your food.

These silver casters would be found with a domed lid and were often referred to as a lighthouse shape. Through the 18th century the baluster shape with a pedestal base became popular. Though examples are found in square or octagonal shapes, they are relatively rare.
A simple 'push'-fitting lid.
The detachable lid was held in place in several different ways, often with a simple push or a bayonet fitting similar to the British light bulb.

Because of their attractive style, the sugar caster has become a popular collection piece. Often purchased as a gift for weddings and anniversaries, the appeal of these silver sugar casters lies in the fact that although extremely charming, they are also functional. A sweet way to add some glamour to your table.

So, however you serve up your sweet offerings this weekend, I wish you all a Happy Easter.

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