Some useful information about the Assay Offices of the UK

There are many collectors who base their collections around one particular Assay Office. Some of these will collections of all types of silver, not just sugar tongs. In some cases the output from these Assay Offices was relatively small so to build a reasonable collection, it will be essential to collect more than just sugar tongs. Sugar tongs can be seen on this web-site grouped by their Assay Offices, so if you want to specialise in one particular one, then they can be seen together. Simply click on the appropriate Assay Office below and all the sugar tong makers so far seen by me can be seen. Before deciding to specialise in any one particular Assay mark, there are a few tips and hints to be aware of. These are outlined in the description of the particular office.

Bear in mind, the Assay Office is simply the place that the silver-smith took his work to be hall-marked. If you do want to focus on a particular Assay Office, then be aware that by far the largest percentage of sugar tongs were made in London. London completely dominated the market during this period so finding tongs hallmarked elsewhere may be difficult. A rough percentage, (from those that I have collected) is as follows:


This means that London made sugar tongs are by far the easiest to find, and collect.  By clicking on one of the links below, you will find out a little more about the particular Assay Office concerned to help with identifying the work that was hallmarked there.

There were 10 main Assay offices. 7 in England, 2 in Scotland and 1 in Ireland.

ENGLAND

Birmingham               1773                           Anchor.

Chester                      1701 1962              3 wheat-sheafs and upturned sword.

Exeter                         1701 1883             castle.

London                       1462

Newcastle                  1721 1883              3 castles.

Sheffield                     1773                           crown.

York                            1559 1886              cross and 5 lions rampant.


SCOTLAND

In Scotland there were two main Assay Offices. There were also many provincial towns where silver was made.

Glasgow                     1819 - 1964               fish, tree and bell.

Edinburgh                  1681                           Triple towered castle and thistle.

Scottish Provincial Towns

IRELAND

Dublin                         1720                           Harp and Hibernia.

Cork                                                                Maker's mark & "STERLING".

Channel Islands

Sugar tongs were also made in the Channel Islands, although they was no Assay Office there. These tongs will often be marked only with the maker's mark. Later, they also sent tongs to London for assay so Channel Islands work can be marked with the maker's mark only or may also have London hallmarks.

Channel Islands

Collecting antique silver sugar tongs can be a wonderfully rewarding experience. This web-site will supply lots of information to help you with the process, but for your own copy of the only known book on the subject, click the picture!