This rare, small ladle by Towle, from Newburyport Massachusetts, is designed with a curved branch handle which loops around the top with an applied leaf. The bowl is formed as a hollowed out tree trunk. It has a lovely gilt interior and a detailed bark exterior. Four cut corners at the base of the bowl are an added decorative element but also allow the ladle to balance the handle and prevent it from tipping over.
For a brief period from the mid-1880s until c. 1900, Towle made a limited amount of naturalistic silver like this. Little was made and it is only seen rarely today on the market. It has been theorized that this is a maple syrup ladle; but without any documentary support, we will catalog it traditionally as a cream ladle. One that you should use with maple syrup!
This wonderful ladle is marked with Towle's trademark, 'STERLING/ 71B'. It measures 5 inches long, weighs 1.25 troy ounces and is in excellent condition.