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.
This is now the second pair of tongs we have seen, both by Richard Ferris &
both marked with the date letter "N". The images for this pair were
kindly supplied by Roger Nevling from Iowa in the USA.
Click on any picture to enlarge