George Gray is an interesting maker. Grimwade says “his first mark appears frequently over-struck of Hester Bateman and her successors Peter and Ann”. This opens up the whole question of how silversmiths operated in the late 18th century. It would seem quite logical that they all knew each other very well. After all they were all in the same business and they all lived near each other! It also seems obvious that if a silversmith had received a commission that s/he was unable to fulfill then he would borrow from another workshop. Perhaps there were some who simply did not have the workshop capacity to keep up with orders and took a lot of their work from bigger workshops to sell in their own shops. This would seem sensible, quite likely and not very different from practices that go on today with small businesses.

A more widely recognized reason for over-striking a maker’s marks was that they were struck by the retailer; i.e. the retailer would buy from the original maker, strike his own mark over the original and then sell the item. This seems to have been a fairly common practice & so one must suppose that there was nothing sinister about it and that makers generally did not mind their marks being over-struck. A practice that I would suspect that today’s craftsmen would not be too pleased with!

These tongs are a very common Bateman style. All of the Batemans sold silver sugar tongs of exactly this style. The sugar tongs are even hallmarked under the bow, which is exactly where all the Batemans hallmarked their sugar tongs of this style. There is no sign that George Gray has over-struck a Bateman mark on these tongs.

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