1826 London Sugar Tongs: Maker's Mark?

I am new to the forum and am wondering if anyone could possibly help to identify the maker of this pair of silver sugar tongs? They are 14.5cm long and weigh 53g. They were assayed in London in 1826.

(If anyone could also formally name the decorative pattern, that would also be appreciated.)

Many thanks, in anticipation!

Possibly James Henry Daniel:

YES! Bingo! I think you’re dead right! Many thanks, indeed!

King’s Pattern Husk. But the end with the grips is modified and looks almost shell-like.

King’s pattern devolved to the more complex Queens Pattern with honey suckle entwined.

Husk was just that, a stripped down version of the King’s pattern.

Paul Storr was an early user and perhaps the inventor of the pattern which was used by him after he left Rundell Bridge in 1819.

This slightly later production takes the basic pattern and embellishes it anticipating the more complex Queens’ Pattern but not mimicking it.

Patent issues both might have been expected to arise in the UK but didn’t until the forerunner of the Patent Office, the Office of the Commissioners for Patents, was established by the Patent Law Amendment Act 1852 and opened on 1 October that year.

The first US design patent for spoons etc. is No. 26 issued on Dec. 4th 1844 to Michael Gibney. Two more patents were taken out in short order by John C. Moore and William Gale & Nathaniel Hayden.

Under patent law Queens and King Pattern whether husk or honey-suckle would have been in the public domain by the time the UK patent office opened and probably should have been in the US too.

So how did silversmiths protect their design and why did they not do it more diligently in the UK?

The short answer is the concept of intellectual property was slow to come to the fore in Victorian England where practical or physical control was the essence of design protection. For instance the developers of steam-driven pumps for Cornish mines was applied directly to locomotives and the makers of the former were paid for use of their designs by the locomotive builders but the great architects and artists of the time enjoyed no such protection for their work. So Landscape Architects Repton and Capability Brown were widely copied and rarely rewarded except by the person they worked for directly. Repton addressed this problem by selling design books for gardens rather than actually physically creating the garden. Furniture markers too, like Chippendale and Sheraton made money from sale of pattern books which other copied from at will and rarely with accreditation back to the actual designer.

If Thomas Chippendale had been given a royalty on every item of furniture made using his pattern books he would probably have been as wealthy as Bill Gates, who, two and a half centuries later, did have both intellectual property protection and the means to enforce it.

So your tongs’ design , which is basically a take-off from the great silversmiths of the day, with few embellishments, is a useful example of two matters: the devolvement from King’s Husk to Queens and the problem of imitation not only being a sincere form of flattery but, for the designer, a rather expensive one not addressed until the Patent Office was established…

Many thanks for such an interesting, detailed and informative reply. Much appreciated!

Guildhall you are a fantastic contributor to this fantastic website.
PS, I live about Four miles from Thomas Chippendales birth place of Otley, West Yorkshire, with his Bronze statue out side the building,
every time I visit Otley I always pay my respects to his statue.

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Kind of you to acknowledge my very modest contribution. This website is a tribute to its originators and stalwarts like Phil Osbourn of Silver Makers Marks whose yeoman service on often obscure marks and encyclopedic knowledge dwarves mine.

The thing about silver in the current market is it gives even very modestly-funded collectors a chance to pick up a piece of history and not only are the “entry fees” very reasonable but the UK sterling marking system provides a safety net for neophyte collectors – something neither the picture market nor the furniture market can give its adherents without much expense.

The game is made even more interesting by the online auction houses. Auction houses have traditionally relied upon the expertise of buyers to prevent massive claims for misrepresentation.

In the old days, pre-internet, all the silver buyers knew each other and to avoid bidding against each other would agree who was going to buy what ands then hold a separate auction outside of the house.

Even this practice which must have cost the houses hundreds of thousands didn’t encourage anybody but the top London Houses to tighten up on their descriptions.

Today when there are a lot of buyers who rely upon the reps from the house, the problem has become more serious.

I won’t name the auction house but last week an item at a smaller auction house was badly mis repp’ed. I called up the auctioneer and told him the item was not worth the reserve on it and the description was simply wrong. I was told, while they knew or suspected that, this was what the consignor wanted and the auction houses wanted his business sufficiently badly to risk their own reputation.

It may well be time to update the legislation under which auction houses run. Unfortunately it is very often municipal bylaws.

Just for fun go onto www.liveauctioneers.com and spend an hour reviewing the silver for sale. You will find errors. As you get good at it you can probably find two to six errors an hour. When you find them in your favor you might buy when you find them simply inaccurate and deceptive you might give the auctioneer the benefit of the doubt and write him and let him know. You will find he ignores you 80% of the time claiming that’s the consignor’s description and he is not going to substitute him for my judgment.


Many thanks for all your contributions and I agree with you 100% that Phil Osbourn is also a fantastic
contributor to this fantastic website / forum,
I hope the images upload and show One of the loves of my life that was listed on a online auction as 1805, it is a Three piece small caster made by Starling Wilford in 1725.
Kind regards, Ronnie,
PS, it was Phil Osbourn that said it could be Starling Wilford.