William Darby registered his mark at Sheffield on November 21st 1785. William Darby is particularly famous as on 6th December 1785 he lodged a patent for a particular way of machine stamping silverware. At this time all small silver flatware was made by hand but William Darby invented a method of machine stamping to produce the desired article. This method is in fact little different to that used today however he was many years ahead of his time. Machone stamping of small items such as spoons and sugar tongs did not really come into fashion until the 1840's. Prior to that everything was made by hand.
Sugar tongs made by William Darby are extremely rare and in fact I know of only about a half dozen in existence.
The marks on this pair are poor but they are unmistakeable with the "Patent" mark and the standard set of Sheffield hallmarks, including the incuse duty mark.
A copy of the patent for this method of working is reproduced in Ian Pickford's excellent book "Silver Flatware English, Irish and Scottish 1660-1980"
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