One of the most sought after southern antiques is the sugar chest. Sugar chests were used in the interior southern states mostly in the early 19th century. They were used to store a family’s supply of sugar cones since the lack of transportation in the area made sugar expensive and not easily obtained. Lesser known and also rare are tools used to break up the hard sugar cones into usable pieces. Some homes had sugar cutter boxes which had a hinged cutting blade which could cut the cones. The box had a top to keep out the mice, a cutting blade mounted on an interior midfloor with holes drilled through. Below the midfloor was usually a shallow drawer which collected the very small crumbs of sugar which fell through the holes when the cones were cut. These sugar cutter boxes ranged from simple and plain pine boxes, to boxes of the same design but decorated with paint or even veneer. This wide range of quality is only natural since sugar was handled the same in small homesteader farms or in very large and rich plantation homes. Other more common tools for sugar were sugar nippers, sugar hammers and sugar axes. These hand tools also ranged from very simple and plain to fancy and decorated.
Keep searching for the famous sugar chests, but also remember the smaller sugar tools which were just as important and prized by their owners.
Fancy sugar cutter with maple veneer originally from Rosedown Plantation in St. Francisville LA
Plain pine sugar cutter found in SW Virginia antique mall
Faux painted pine sugar cutter from West Tennessee auction
Walnut sugar cutter with lock and tobacco leaf decoration on inside of top
Maple box with lock and escutcheon, brass pulls
A stand alone sugar cutter mounted on a board instead of in a box
Sugar hammers and axes Sugar Nippers
Unusually small nippers only 6 inches long