DUTCH SILVER SWEETMEAT BASKET, Alger Mensma Amsterdam, 1722
The sweetmeat basket is manufactured in the form of an oval glass cooler (monteith), with scalloped edge, on which hinged openwork handles are hung on both sides. The body has a profiled border all around and is raised on an oval slightly domed base. Fully marked on the reverse of the body and displaying an assay stripe.
The sweetmeat basket can be seen as an early object made by Alger Mensma. It is also one of the earliest of its kind. Most of the ones that followed were made around 1730. The early sweetmeat baskets are in the form of a plain glass/wine cooler. Sweetmeat baskets have been recorded in Hague inventory lists as confituren koelbakje or thee koelvat, intended for preservatives or candy sugar.
Alger Mensma (Leeuwarden 1682- Leeuwarden after 1757), is considered to be one of the leading silversmiths in Amsterdam during the first half of the 18th century. Alger was trained as a silversmith in his father Nicolaas’s workshop in Leeuwarden. Besides, he was trained by the well-known chaser Jurriaen Pool, as his father was in 1658. However, Alger went to Amsterdam, where he married Elisabeth Steenstraat in 1709. In 1710 he became poorter (burgher) of Amsterdam and became a member of the Amsterdam silversmiths’ guild. His father Nicolaas Mensma was a so-called service worker, as Alger was too. In 1730 Alger remarried. After his second marriage to Sara van der Weide, the couple lived at Buiksloot.
Alger Mensma stayed and worked in Amsterdam. Thereafter he returned to Leeuwarden, where he died after 1757. Alger Mensma’s maker’s mark, ‘a wild man with a club’, was derived from the family coat-of-arms.
From his remaining works it can be concluded that Alger Mensma received many important commissions. For example, in 1731 he made a huge silver cooler, commissioned by the Admiralty of Amsterdam, donated to Captain Cornelis Schrijver. In 1732 this same captain was given a large silver fountain, made by Alger Mensma, who received this commission from the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Both objects form a set, which is now in the collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.