• FA-123741 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
Glass and Ceramics
1800 - 1849
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

Sugar loaf mould, stoneware, 1845

Nowadays when we hear the words ‘sugar-loaf’ we usually think of a mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. People in German-speaking countries might think of the preparations that go into making a traditional Feuerzangenbowle, during which a rum-soaked sugar-loaf is set on fire and then left to drip into mulled wine.

But at the time the exhibit from the Technisches Museum Wien was still in use, refining sugar was a highly complex manual process that involved many work stages and conical ceramic receptacles. Cane sugar (from sugar cane) was so precious that, in the best circles, it was customary to drink not just tea, but also sugar water, for which there were separate sets of tableware. Indeed, it was only in the mid-19th century that beet sugar first became commercially successful.

Our sugar-loaf mould dates from the third general Austrian trade exhibition in Vienna in 1845. The stoneware factory of Messrs. Friedrich Wolf u. Comp. was located in the town of Glinsko north of Lemberg (present-day Lviv) in Galicia, which was then part of the Habsburg monarchy and is now in Ukraine. For the exhibition the factory showcased a ‘mould complete with pot for sugar refineries’.

Ceramic sugar-loaf moulds have round openings in the tip of the cone. When the thick sugar mass was filled into the mould and continually stirred, the holes in the upturned mould were plugged with stoppers. These stoppers were then removed so the syrup could drain away and the sugar could dry. The sugar mass left behind was very hard and shaped like a conical loaf, hence the sugar loaf. Each sugar-loaf mould had its own pot used for collecting the syrup as it drained away. At the trade exhibition of 1845 our museum exhibit was on display complete with its pot, but unfortunately it has not been preserved.

Throughout the 19th century the sugar loaf was the most common commercial form of the sweetener. But because it was so enormously hard, it could only be broken into pieces using sugar crushers, sugar tongs or sugar scrapers. In fact, it is said that the sugar cube was invented because of the injuries sustained by the wife of a sugar manufacturer while breaking off pieces of sugar. But that, as they say, is another story.

Manufacturer: Stoneware factory of Messrs. Wolf u. Comp., Glinsko, Galicia (present-day Ukraine)
Production date: 1845

Inv.Nr. 26485
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