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Sugar nippers

Sugar nippers

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1750 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Jackson, Thomas I (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Chased silver

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John A. Tulk

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 52b, case 1

Object Type
Sugar nippers or nips were made from the early 18th century, but from the 1770s were replaced by sugar tongs. The sharp-edged bowl helps to cut or 'nip' sugar from the large, irregularly shaped loaves sugar was sold in. Sugar nippers generally have a scissor-like shape rather than the later U-shaped sugar tongs. They were often supplied with a set of tea spoons or as part of a boxed set containing caddies, spoons and nippers.

Design & Designing
The shell-shaped bowls and scrolling handles show the influence of Rococo design. Marine motifs such as shells, waves or sea creatures were especially popular in Rococo silver. It has also been suggested that the shell shape of tea scoops and sugar nippers refers to the custom of placing a scallop shell in a tea crate to allow the tea to be sampled.

The silversmith Thomas Jackson was apprenticed to William Soame of the Mercers Company in 1729 on payment of a fee of £20. He became free of the Company in 1736 (i.e., completed his apprenticeship) and worked in London for a number of years subsequently.

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1750 (made)


Jackson, Thomas I (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Chased silver


Width: 4.44 cm, Length: 13.02 cm

Object history note

Made in England by Thomas Jackson I (active from 1736)
Although it was difficult to make large spoons out of Sheffield plate, they were still cheaper than those made of silver. In this example a die-stamped bowl has been soldered to a separately made stem. Like most surviving plated spoons, it has not worn well which explains why they were not popular.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The earliest known sugar nippers date from about 1715. They were so-called because they enabled sugar pieces to be picked up or 'nipped' from the bowl and carried easily to the cup. They were often designed to match sets of teaspoons. [27/03/2003]


Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares; Tableware & cutlery


Metalwork Collection

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