From its founding in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution was assumed to be the keeper of the national collections, although the "United States National Museum" did not emerge as a formal entity until 1858. Natural history and anthropology artifacts were the focus of the Museum's earliest collecting efforts, but by the late 19th century the Museum was collecting household goods, manufactured for the American and European market, that demonstrated technological and artistic advances in a wide range of industries. Between 1885 and 1920, American glass companies played an important role in building the new collections by donating examples of their currently fashionable glassware.
T. G. Hawkes & Company of Corning, New York, donated examples of their work to the Museum in 1917 and 1918, showcasing their rich or brilliant-cut glass. This bowl, donated by the firm in 1917, is cut and engraved, but also mounted in sterling silver—a newly fashionable style at the time.