Sugar tongs from Chester are extremely rare.
Chester was operating as a provincial Assay
office, (unofficially) up until 25th March 1697 when an Act of
Parliament closed the provincial Assay offices. The Act of 1701 then
allowed Chester to re-open again. The opening of the Birmingham and
Sheffield Assay offices 1773 will have had an impact on the business of
Assaying at Chester, and may explain why there are so few sugar tongs with
Chester hallmarks. We know that at the other Assay offices date letters
were not introduced on small items such as sugar tongs until quite late,
(1791 for London and later for other Assay offices). It is also likely that
the Leopardís head and city arms were not punched on small items of silver.
The kingís head duty mark was not introduced until 1st December 1784
so any work prior to that will have only the Lion Passant and makerís mark.
This means it is likely to be very difficult to attribute a particular piece
of work to Chester, as the Lion
Passant looks very similar to the Sheffield Lion. The Chester Lion Passant
has different corners cut to represent different periods.
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