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
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.
Birmingham 1773 Anchor.
Chester 1701 – 1962 3 wheat-sheafs and upturned sword.
Exeter 1701 – 1883 castle.
Newcastle 1721 – 1883 3 castles.
Sheffield 1773 crown.
York 1559 – 1886 cross and 5 lions rampant.
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.
Dublin 1720 Harp and Hibernia.
Cork Maker's mark & "STERLING".
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.
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!