Hester Bateman is perhaps the most famous of Silversmiths. Her work is recognized of being the best. In fact the Bateman family were running silversmith workshops for some considerable period of time, a span of well over 100 years. Dates for Bateman hallmarks are as follows, (source Grimwades).

John Bateman c 1704 - 1760
Hester Bateman 1761 – 1790, (final mark August 1787)
Peter & Jonathan 7th December 1790 – 2nd May 1791
Peter & Anne 2nd May 1791 – January 1800
Peter, Anne & William January 1800 – 8th November 1805
Peter & William 8th November 1805 – 15th February 1815
William I 15th February 1815 – 9th February 1827
William II 1827 –

As probably the most famous Lady silversmith of all, there are many sources of information about Hester Bateman available. The Bateman family were prodigious producers of fine silver, not least Hester. The style of her work is very distinctive and was leading edge for the period. This is important for collectors as it means there is a great deal of Hester Bateman silver available to be collected. Care does need to be taken as there are fakes around although this would usually more likely apply to the larger, more expensive pieces rather than silver sugar tongs.

The style of Hester’s silver sugar tongs is very distinctive, although there are elements that change with each pair. In examining the style of Hester Bateman silver sugar tongs, we should look at a number of elements:

The overall proportion of the flared arms is fairly standard for all her tongs and after examining a lot of tongs is fairly distinctive, meaning that few other tongs are of those dimensions.

1. The bright cut engraving

Generally, most of Hester Bateman’s sugar tongs have fairly elaborate bright cut engraving over the whole of the tongs. This can extend into the bowls or be just on the arms. She will almost always leave a cartouche to enable owner’s initials to be engraved. No particular pattern can be discerned because, as with most Georgian makers, every pair is different. The amount of bright cut engraving on her tongs is often greater than for other tongs of about the same age from other makers. It is impossible to tell the difference between a pair of Hester Bateman tongs of 1780 or 1790, a span of 10 years.

3. The bowls

Here, we see far more variation. In terms of style of bowls, the main types are:

Acorn

These tend to appear on the more elaborately designed tongs. I would suppose that if she had been commissioned to deliver a “more expensive” style of tongs, then there would quite likely be acorn bowls. These will always have a "nipple", although not always the same size. This style of bowl will also tend to be a little different with each pair although the general pattern is always the same.

To see some acorn bowls click here.

Pointed

These are the most common. They will be seen either with decoration or with only very minimal decoration, (perhaps a light prick-dot pattern around the edge of the bowls). Sometimes the point will be quite sharp and pronounced, other times, more curved or smooth.

To see some pointed bowls click here.

Circular

These are almost without exception on the "nicer" tongs. The size can vary quite significantly, as can the degree of pattern. The use of these circular style bowls is very in keeping with the vogue of other makers of the period. The style of rounded bowls tended to die out around 1785 – 1790.

To see some circular bowls click here.

To view some of Hester Bateman's tongs, click on the links below:

1776 - 1784 Bright cut - 5 pairs of tongs.

1785 - 1786 Bright cut - incuse duty mark, 6 pairs of tongs.

1786 - 1790 Bright cut - cameo duty mark, 5 pairs of tongs.

1790

c1770 - cast tongs - 1

c1770 - cast tongs - 2