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tline3open  Enough already with the tongs, Polly!

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Author Topic:   Enough already with the tongs, Polly!

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 03-29-2012 08:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Four pairs of American sterling tongs from the 1880s-90s. Three are by Gorham: the small and tiny pairs are from my Wild Spoon and Tong Weekend, and the olive tongs were a lucky online auction find. The comet tongs I've had for a while. They're by Durgin, and in between the two little Gorham pairs in size.

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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1768
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 03-30-2012 09:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
the durgin tongs are extremely cool, i have not seen that pattern before. thanks for sharing those.

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Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 03-31-2012 11:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Paul! Isn't it cute? I found it at the bottom of a box, black with tarnish; cost me approximately a cup of coffee. Those were the days!

I want it to be from 1910 and commemorate that year's visit of Halley's Comet, but the mark is too early. Oh, I didn't post the mark, did I? It's the one with the bird in a laurel wreath.

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iconnumber posted 03-31-2012 11:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The meteor shower of 1833 may have been the inspiration for your tongs. Later this shower became the source for the song “Stars fell on Alabama”
The song "Stars Fell on Alabama" has deep roots in astronomy as well as state history.

The song was a hit in 1934, the same year a book by the same name was published, but roots of both reached back to an event that started 176 years ago tonight.

Astronomers estimate that a meteor storm on Nov. 12-13, 1833, bombarded Earth's atmosphere with more than 30,000 meteors an hour blazing over Alabama and much of the rest of the country.

The 1833 storm was an unusually active display of Leonid meteors, specks of debris from the comet Tempel-Tuttle, often as small as grains of sand, that briefly streak across the sky as they burn up in the atmosphere.

"The sky was literally filled with fireworks, and people thought it was the end of the world. That was the night stars fell on Alabama and most of North America," said Bill Cooke, an astronomer at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center near Huntsville. "The only people who weren't scared were the American Indians. They interpreted meteors as a sign of good luck."

The next best chance for Alabamians to see Leonid meteors will come before dawn Tuesday, though Cooke said the display isn't forecast to be nearly as impressive as it was 176 years ago.

The 1833 event terrified people across America, says an article in "The Alabama Guide," published this year by the state Department of Archives and History.

The Huntsville Democrat newspaper, as cited in the guide, reported on "this most awful and sublime appearance" and wrote, "For several hours, thousands and even millions of these meteors appeared in every direction to be in constant motion."

Some people believed Judgment Day was at hand, said an article that ran in Alabama Heritage magazine in 2000. The article quoted a newspaper from a town in Georgia that said many profane people "were frightened to their knees," that dust-covered Bibles were opened and that dice and cards were thrown to the flames.

About a century later, the event inspired the title of "Stars Fell on Alabama," a book by New York native Carl Carmer. He taught English at the University of Alabama in the 1920s and wrote a book of essays, many of them relating stories people told him as he traveled the state.

The book, published in 1934, said some black women told Carmer their fathers knew slaves whose memories were seared by the "awful event."

"Many an Alabamian to this day reckons dates from 'the year the stars fell,'" Carmer wrote.

Soon after the book came out, Mitchell Parish wrote the words and Frank Perkins the music of the song "Stars Fell on Alabama," a hit after the Guy Lombardo Orchestra recorded it the same year.

The song tells of "a situation so heavenly," with a couple kissing in a field of white, and says several times that "stars fell on Alabama last night."

Billie Holiday, Jack Teagarden and Ella Fitzgerald recorded the song. So did Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr., Jimmy Buffett and many others.

John C. Hall, director of the Black Belt Museum at the University of West Alabama, thinks the phrase "Stars Fell on Alabama" resonates today because of the song, not the book or the meteor storm.

"The song was so popular, and was a standard from every Alabama band performance from 1934 (on), that I think that is what has kept the phrase before the public," said Hall, who wrote the Alabama Heritage article.

The Leonid meteors, so called because they appear to fall from a point in the eastern sky near the constellation Leo, zoom through space at about 156,000 mph, Cooke said. They tend to burn up roughly 60 miles from the ground.

This year, Earth is forecast to plow through debris ejected by comet Tempel-Tuttle in 1466 and 1533, said Bill Keel, an astronomer at the University of Alabama. The comet orbits the sun about every 33 years.

Cooke said Earth is expected to be close to the middle of the debris streams about 3:45 p.m. on, daytime in Alabama.

He said the best viewing here, clouds permitting, will be before dawn Tuesday, when people can expect to see about 25 meteors per hour. Viewing also should be worthwhile late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, Cooke said.

Anyone hoping to see Leonid meteors should find a dark, open place far from city lights, lie on the ground and look straight up to see as much of the sky as possible, Cooke and Keel said.

"The key is to watch," Cooke said. "They'll appear to come from the constellation Leo, in the east, but they can appear anywhere in the sky."

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iconnumber posted 05-07-2012 10:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cute as the comet tongs are, I am just wowed by the olive tongs. They're gorgeous, and eminently useful!

Is there any indication of when they were made, Polly? (Or anyone?)

Also: I guess it's theoretically possible to get enough of tongs, but we're not close to that point yet IMO... Keep 'em coming!

[This message has been edited by ellabee (edited 05-07-2012).]

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 05-07-2012 12:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

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Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 05-07-2012 01:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ooo, so cool to see the catalogue picture!

The olive tongs are currently visiting the tong doctor to have the little kink at the top taken out--otherwise, he tells me, they might eventually become two separate olive forks.

The tongs were originally sold with a figural olive dish with the same hammered texture. One of our members used to have one; perhaps if he reads this and happens to have taken a photo before he sold it, he'll post it.

I love that picture of the Alabama meteor shower.

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Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 03-04-2013 12:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Tongs in Gorham's Lady's pattern:

Marks: Gorham marks, patent '68, STERLING (not in photo):

Useful for lifting a candied chickpea from my boars' head salt dish:

(The candied chickpeas are available at Kalustyan's on 28th & Lex in NYC, and doubtless at other shops that sell Indian sweets. I found them an acquired taste, but addictive once acquired.)

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Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 03-06-2013 03:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Aesthetic tongs with twig arms and leaf ends, gilded bow and ends:

Marked only 931 STERLING 16:

Anyone know who made it?

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