1. “TL” and Hester Bateman sugar tongs.

1784 - 1786

1786 - 1790

1786 - 1790  

1786 - 1790

Clearly these tongs are over-struck. The maker that over-struck them appears to be the same maker in each case as the shapes of the “T” & “L” are the same & there are several areas of similarity to the damage & flaws on the punches. All four pairs of tongs have the very distinctive Hester Bateman style, so I would have little hesitation in stating that they are Hester Bateman tongs over-struck by the same maker, “TL”.

The key question is, “who was “TL”.

TL is not a common maker’s mark & in examining Grimwade, we come upon the following:

2823 – Thomas Lawrence I

He was a large-worker, with his first mark registered in 1743. Grimwade describes him as “almost certainly a watch-case maker”. He has a number of incuse marks registered as a “case-maker” between 1748 and 1770. His son registered a mark in 1771. Whilst none of the above rules him out it does seem very unlikely, especially as he would have been around 60 when the tongs above were made.

2824 – Thomas Lamborn

Thomas Lamborn is much more interesting. His first mark was registered in 1759, as a small-worker. A small-worker is much more likely to have been making, or retailing, sugar tongs. There was also a Thomas Lamborn registered in Sheffield in 1776. It was not unknown for provincial silver-smiths to register marks in London as well as their own cities. This could well have been to enable them to act as a retailer in the town. What is interesting about this supposition is that in such an event, it would be quite possible, even likely that they would have bought from a more local supplier if a particular item was to be supplied. The problem with Thomas Lamborn as a suspect is that we see no tongs actually made by him, hall-marked with London marks, whereas we do see Sheffield tongs with Thomas Lamborn’s mark, albeit rarely. There is also nothing documented to show either that Thomas Lamborn of Sheffield registered a London mark, or that there is any connection between the two. Nevertheless he is a definite possibility.

2825 – Thomas Liddiard

Thomas Liddard was also a small-worker, with a mark registered in 1770. Notice also that his address was Gutter Lane – right in the centre of where the major silver-smiths operated at this time. He is variously described as a goldsmith and watchmaker, (by Heal) and as a silver-smith when his sons were admitted to St. Paul’s school. Perhaps one more potential link is that his eldest son was apprenticed to Thomas Daniel. We know that Thomas Daniel was a silver-smith that made a lot of sugar tongs.

3448 – Thomas Lovidge

Thomas Lovidge was registered as a gold-worker, from Newbury in Berkshire His first mark was registered in 1778. He will have needed to have a mark registered at Goldsmith’s Hall in order to practise his art and have his work hall-marked. His mark is in an oval shield whereas all the others were in rectangular shields. Grimwade also records another mark, (3884) as probably Thomas Lovidge, again in an oval shield. A third mark is attributed to Thomas Lovidge under the category of “Gold-worker’s marks”, registered by letter of Attorney. These facts piece together as him being a Newbury worker with his marks registered in London, between at least 1778 and 1793. The dates fit well with the Hester Bateman tongs above. There is no reason to suspect that he might not have purchased sugar tongs from Hester Bateman to re-sell to any of his customers asking for them.

The next question to address is the appearance of the marks themselves. Are they in a rectangular shield or an oval one? This is quite difficult to determine for certain, but I would be more inclined to consider it to be rectangular rather than oval, the slightly curved sides could well be a function of wear and the fact that they are over-struck than anything else. The marks just don’t appear to be circular enough to be oval. This of course is opinion, rather than fact. Regarding other aspects of the appearance of the maker’s mark, none of the four marks in Grimwade look exactly like this one. It is not unusual for the appearance of marks in Grimwade to appear different to the actual marks, reasons for this are:

1. The makers would have had several punches & potentially only one registered at Goldsmith’s Hall;

2. All punches were hand engraved, so no two punches will ever look exactly identical;

3. Makers will have had different sized punches for use with different works, (exactly as they do today) – each will have been slightly different;

4. Age and numbers of times used will have worn the punches so that over time the punch will look different;

5. Punches will have been replaced when worn and the new ones would not have been exactly the same and not necessarily registered at Goldsmith's Hall.

For all of these reasons, we cannot rely absolutely on the image of the punch in Grimwade looking exactly like the ones actually seen on sugar tongs.

So we have four possible makers, (not including any that are not recorded by Grimwade). Of the four, I think it most likely that the marks are by one of the three with rectangular shields, (a matter of opinion). Of these three, I would rule out Thomas Lawrence I as being too early, which leaves Thomas Lamborn or Thomas Liddiard. I actually think it is quite difficult to choose between the two. I would err towards Thomas Liddiard for the following reasons:

1. His dates are more contemporary with Hester Bateman;

2. He lived nearby;

3. His son was apprenticed to a known sugar tong maker.

This reasoning is tentative at best – and highly suspect, but on balance is probably the most likely in my view.

Sadly with many sugar tongs of this period, we can never be absolutely certain who the maker was. Unless evidence turns up to show that one was known to have bought from Hester Bateman, we will probably never be sure.

In any event, the story is an interesting one. Our friend “TL” bought at least four pairs of sugar tongs from Hester Bateman and over-struck them with his own mark. Was this because he was a retailer and did this with most work he sold? Was he a silver or gold smith that was not experienced in making sugar tongs? Was he a maker at all? Whatever the true story, he clearly had an eye for quality, or at least his customers did!!

If only there were records of Hester’s sales…………