These sugar tongs are a complete enigma. On the face of it, they are by George Smith II, but, according to the dates they cannot be. So whose are they?

The tongs are very clearly hall-marked - London 1797/98. They have the clipped duty mark, dating them to between 6th July 1797 amd 28th May 1798. They are a plain pair of tongs with a simple thread edge.

If we look at the various George Smiths:

 - George Smith I entered his first mark in 1732 and he is recorded as working up to 1751 - these tongs are over 40 years later so he is ruled out;

 - George Smith II entered his first mark some time before 1758 and entered a mark in partnership with Thomas Hayter on 7th January 1792, so on the face of it he was working with Thomas Hayter when these tongs were made;

 - George Smith IV did not enter his first mark until 1799, so he is ruled out.

In fact the only theory that seems to make sense is that the tongs were made by George Smith II, (George Smith III maker's mark is a script mark), and not hallmarked until several years later.

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