This is a pair of flared bright cut tongs, in the standard style for Richard Ferris. The bright cut engraving is particularly crisp and they have a lovely mottled pattern to the bowls. They are highly unusual in that they are marked with a date letter. As far as we know, date letters were not used on sugar tongs before 1810/11. The first letter being "O". This pair has the clear date letter "N" for 1809/10. What is also interesting is that the duty mark was clearly punched separately, i.e. a stub was not used, unless the stub consisted of just the Lion Passant & Date Letter. It is possible that whoever assayed these tongs used the wrong punch in error, using a punch for larger works. It is also possible that perhaps Exeter started punching the date letter BEFORE the change of date letter, hence the use of the "N". Date letters were changed in Exeter on 7th August each year, however we do not know exactly when it was decided that date letters would be punched on sugar tongs (and other small-ware). The appearance of this date letter is certainly very curious and is not something that has been seen on any other sugar tongs from Exeter.

click here to see another pair marked in this way.

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