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tline3open  Tongs--can you read this maker's mark?

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Author Topic:   Tongs--can you read this maker's mark?
Polly

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 07-15-2017 05:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
English sugar tongs, bright cut, round ends:

Marked with the lion in a pointy-curvy-bottomed cartouche, with no monarch's head, which means pre-1784, right? Plus a maker's mark I can't figure out:

What do you make of the maker's mark? It looks to me like it's JH, or maybe JW or maaaaaayyyyyybe TH or TW?? I looked at Graham Hodges' book and website about tongs, and the only mark it even vaguely resembles is Thomas Wallis II: TW - Thomas Wallis II - Lomdon Makers's Marks
But mine really does look more like JH than TW, at least to my eye. It's very hard to get a decent photo of the mark, because the tong arms get in the way.

The monogram is M+S+M. Is that a menage-a-trois? Mainstream Media? I've never seen 3 letters with +'s between them before.

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swarter
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Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 07-15-2017 09:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice probably late 18th or early 19th C tongs.

I'm fairly certain the first two letters are "G" (script) and "o" (possibly for George); the rest are obscured partly or completely by tarnish - you need to clean it up some to make make them out.

In the absence of any hallmarks (unless you didn't show them) this probably is not English, although it could be provincial, colonial, or even American.

[This message has been edited by swarter (edited 07-15-2017).]

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Polly

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 07-15-2017 11:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Swarter. It's English; here's the little lion:

Sorry the photo's so blurry. The marks are tucked away between the arms, where my camera can't easily get at them.

I'm pretty sure the maker's mark is just two letters. I don't think that thing that looks like an O really is one--I think it's just a squiggly serif, part of the second letter. I wish I could get the camera closer to the marks so it could focus on them instead of on the top arm.

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PhilO

Posts: 164
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 07-16-2017 02:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for PhilO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My suggestion would be Joseph Hicks of Exeter. An example of his earliest mark can be seen on my web site at

My image originated on the silversugartongs site, but I note that it is no longer illustrated there.

Phil

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agphile

Posts: 798
Registered: Apr 2008

iconnumber posted 07-16-2017 04:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree that Joseph Hicks seems likely. The cursive version of his mark is illustrated in Miles Harrison's "Exeter and West Country Silver 1700-1900" as well as on Phil's site.

This attribution would narrow down the date of your tongs.Miles shows Hicks as working from 1778 and, as you say, the tongs pre-date the 1784 duty mark.

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agphile

Posts: 798
Registered: Apr 2008

iconnumber posted 07-16-2017 07:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh, and a PS on the three engraved initials.Many possible explanations:

An unusual form of the marriage triangle for something like Martin and Mary Smith.

An owner with a double barrelled surname such as Martin Smith Morrison.

An owner from the Channel Islands where, because so many of the French surnames begin with De or Le or St, they regularly add an extra initial for a later syllable of the surname.

Or, if you are right about a menage a trois, I can't help seeing it as a sadist with a pair of masochists, but surely not for a pretty pair of tongs like these.

(I have had to edit this post because my bossy computer keeps trying to correct me so that, for example, it turned menage a trois into menage a trots. I don't believe a household of left wing activists would own silver tongs and have insisted on reverting to trois.)

[This message has been edited by agphile (edited 07-16-2017).]

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swarter
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Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 07-16-2017 01:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks PhilO - I stand corrected.

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Polly

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 07-16-2017 06:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had lunch today with agleopar (Rob) and his lovely wife, and I showed them the tongs. Rob doesn't believe they're English. He thinks the lion is a pseudo mark. "That's a pathetic little lion. Look at that ridiculous skinny tail," he said.

Anyone agree?

I tried to get a better shot of the lion:

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wev
Moderator

Posts: 4095
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 07-16-2017 08:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
These are the worst sort of marks to shoot. You might try something like this -- and pardon the less than elegant setup; I just used what was to hand.

A small mirror is diagonally between the legs and held in place with a weight on top. It isn't a 45°, but it's enough angle to get a clear parallel image shooting into the mirror

You will have to flop the image, of course. The better the mirror, the less doubling you will get -- the one I used is on a '30s vintage pocket powder case (not sure now why it was on my desk).

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agleopar

Posts: 847
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 07-16-2017 10:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Phils attribution of Joseph Hicks looks to be right -which means my glib remark at lunch is not! Polly's lion is very rubed and it did not seem to be strongly modeled, which is why I thought not English... Oh well that will teach me to be hasty!

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ahwt

Posts: 2173
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 07-17-2017 10:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Polly those are a very nice pairs of tongs. The monogram certainly is mysterious and also the decoration I think is curious with the top decoration extending down the side to meet decoration on the leg. I am surprised that this was not done more often as it is very pleasing.

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