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tline3open  Coin Silver Right angle Sugar Tongs

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Author Topic:   Coin Silver Right angle Sugar Tongs
argentum1

Posts: 602
Registered: Apr 2004

iconnumber posted 11-10-2005 08:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for argentum1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


I have seen maybe 7 of these in over 40 years. They have always been Philadelphia and only by the better known silversmiths. I do not travel extensively so there could well be a lot more out there. So, my question is; is this type common, uncommon, frequently seen, seldom seen, rare. Or whatever designation you may choose. This one is signed I.AITKEN on both sides of the bend. Thanks to all for your continued assistance,

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FWG

Posts: 845
Registered: Aug 2005

iconnumber posted 11-10-2005 09:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FWG     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In my experience (primarily in Virginia, Kentucky, central New York, and Chicago), this form is uncommon and seldom seen. I might even say rare. I'd say I've seen about 2, in 20-odd years.

Mechanically they should be quite strong, but they always struck me as awkward in the hand. This pair is interesting in that both arms are twisted from the bow in the same direction; the one I can remember fairly clearly had the arms twisted in opposite directions so they retained full symmetry.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 11-10-2005 11:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In 30 years, I have seen maybe two of these. The territory would be Texas to Minnesota, east into Ohio, but mainly west of the Mississippi to the Rockies. There were also a few small serving forks with the turned handle and a baby spoon. I was never really sure if the handles had been turned by the maker or by someone later. Nice tongs.

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argentum1

Posts: 602
Registered: Apr 2004

iconnumber posted 11-10-2005 11:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for argentum1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

The shaft of the tong is not physically bent but rather the manner of hammering appears to change the direction.


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ahwt

Posts: 2050
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 11-10-2005 12:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A similar pair of tongs is shown on page 195 of "Joseph Richardson and Family Philadelphia silversmiths" by Martha Gandy Fales. I think I have seen these tongs pictured in other books also as an example of this style. Ms. Fales gives c1790 as the date of these tongs. She also states "the shaping of the shaft of the tongs at a right angle to the bow and nippers is an added touch of virtuosity." There is much to be admired in Philadelphia silver.

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FWG

Posts: 845
Registered: Aug 2005

iconnumber posted 11-10-2005 03:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FWG     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ah, I see, quite right in the construction; the lighting in the original photo made it look like a twist. I'm pretty sure I remember one of the pairs I've seen twisted in opposite directions to keep them symmetrical, but I could be remembering wrong and they were done by hammering like this -- which of course is also symmetrical....

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ahwt

Posts: 2050
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 05-14-2014 07:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Above is a pair of unmarked tongs similar in style to that shown by argentum1 in the first part of this thread. The bright engraving surrounds the edge of both legs with the outer part of the leg having an added half circle decoration.

In use the feel of squeezing the legs together seems a little strange at first but after a short time that feeling goes away.

I wonder if one of our silversmiths would venture an opinion as to whether these tongs would be more difficult to make.

Also is this form limited to examples from Philadelphia?

This was this first pair of tongs of this style that I have seen in person and assume that this style was made for only a short time.

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agleopar

Posts: 833
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 05-21-2014 04:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder if one of our silversmiths would venture an opinion as to whether these tongs would be more difficult to make.

Ahwt, these tongs do have a level of virtuosity that makes them a bit harder to make compared to the normal design. Although having said that a good spoon maker should have no problem, only perhaps a little more work in attention to the change of direction.

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ahwt

Posts: 2050
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 05-21-2014 11:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Agleopar. I have always been fascinated with all kinds of sugar tongs. I like hot tea and drink it without sugar, but somehow tea is better if you have some lump sugar and tongs ready just in case.

[This message has been edited by ahwt (edited 05-21-2014).]

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agleopar

Posts: 833
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 05-21-2014 07:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My wife and I like hot tea too but i confess I do not own a pair of tongs... maybe a case of the the shoemakers children...

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Kimo

Posts: 1582
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 05-22-2014 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
They look to me like they would be uncomfortable and awkward to use compared to traditional designs. If this is the case then that is likely the reason why you do not see these around very often.

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Hose_dk

Posts: 396
Registered: May 2008

iconnumber posted 05-22-2014 12:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hose_dk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Never seen them. But when placed at the tabel they present them selves. My guess would that they are ment to show off more than they are ment to be easy to use.

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Hose_dk

Posts: 396
Registered: May 2008

iconnumber posted 05-22-2014 12:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hose_dk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What happened to my post??

I wrote that i havenever seen that design, and my guess would be that they are made this way to be seen, more than made for practical use.

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11239
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 05-22-2014 01:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hose_dk:
What happened to my post??

????

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Hose_dk

Posts: 396
Registered: May 2008

iconnumber posted 05-23-2014 11:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hose_dk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Strange I could not see my post. Opened a new browser but same result. I am in Turkey could that cause a delay?

Anyhow i am sure that the design should show decoration when laying on table. All my sugartoungs are facing decoration away from viewer, as the lay with side horisontal.

Also with this post there was a several minutes delay. So I know ... have patience.

[This message has been edited by Hose_dk (edited 05-23-2014).]

[This message has been edited by Hose_dk (edited 05-23-2014).]

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ahwt

Posts: 2050
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 05-23-2014 11:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Above are pictures of the monogram on the tongs and the V shaped decoration on the bowl of the tongs.
Hose_DK I think you are right in saying the design was meant to show off the decoration while sitting on the table. In this case the decoration is very restrained.

They are surprisingly easy to use even if they do look different.

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ahwt

Posts: 2050
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 03-05-2019 10:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote



The above sugar tongs were aptly coined right angle tongs by argentum1 some years ago. This pair was shown recently on a large auction site and is interesting because they are not from Philadelphia, but from Ireland and date to 1790. Everyone of this type of tongs that I have seen, until now, have been from Philadelphia. Perhaps the original design source for this style was actually Ireland and that someone in Philadelphia liked this style and decided to make it over here. Any thoughts about how this design got to Philadelphia?

I really do think the Irish made some of the most remarkable silver I have seen and wish I had started looking at it much earlier.

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ahwt

Posts: 2050
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 03-05-2019 10:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Irish tongs above have the Prince of Wales plumes prominently engraved on both arms. Given the troubles between Ireland and England at this time I am surprised with this choice.

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Polly

Posts: 1861
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 03-06-2019 12:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
English spring-hinged tongs, usually made in the 1770s, generally had the arms at right angles like this.

A pair by James Harmar:

A pair by (perhaps) John Bourne, with cast, pierced arms:

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ahwt

Posts: 2050
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 03-06-2019 09:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Polly thanks for those wonderful examples. It appears that the silversmiths in the 1790s were merely continuing the emphasis on seeing the design when the tongs were laying on a table as was done in the 1770s. The silversmiths in Philadelphia seemed to have responded to that design more that silversmiths in other parts of the US.
I wonder if any US silversmith constructed spring hinged tongs?

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ahwt

Posts: 2050
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 03-11-2019 11:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

These are a pair of “right angle” tongs by William Gethen of Philadelphia. Seeing the Irish tongs above led me to believe that the unmarked “right angle” tongs that I also posted above may not be American.

Mr. Gethen died in 1808 so these would be sometime before that date. Catherine Hollan has a short paragraph on Mr. Gethen in her book on Philadelphia Silversmiths.

It does seem odd that silversmiths from other cities did not make this variation of bright cut tongs, but some may turn up in the future.

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