Thomas & William Chawner were the sons of
John Chawner and Anne Chaloner. Thomas was born in 1734. He was
apprenticed to Ebenezer Coker on 4th December 1754, was free 13th
January 1762, and made livery in December 1771. Thomas & William were in
partnership from 1759. The date of Thomas’s first mark is 15th
October 1773 but is believed to have been working before this, probably from
the date of his freedom in 1762. Thomas died between 1802 and 1811.
There are three pairs of tongs by Thomas & William Chawner. These tongs
have some interesting features. Their marks are interesting as one of their
marks is shown in Grimwades as W over TC over C, whereas these tongs are
marked as T over WC over C.
“Touching Gold & Silver”, a catalogue
produced of an exhibition at Goldsmith’s Hall in 1978 refers to a similar
mark. Plate 101 describes a set of Table Forks marked with T over WC over
C, dated 1762. The tongs I have tentatively dated at 1780, but perhaps they
were a little earlier. There are 2 registers that were submitted to the
House of Commons committee and never returned. These were the Small
Worker’s register 1739-1758 and the Large Worker’s register 1758-1773.
Potentially this mark was in one of those registers.
The first pair of silver sugar tongs are cast. The maker’s mark is recorded as (probably) Thomas & William
Chawner, (Grimwade’s 3816). The next two pairs of
sugar tongs both have the distinction of having no Lion Passant and having the
maker’s mark struck twice. Striking the maker’s mark twice was done to
avoid paying duty. If there is no Lion Passant on the tongs, then these
tongs cannot have been sent to the Assay office for assaying. This means
that they cannot be legally classified as Sterling silver. It is definitely
very puzzling that neither of these tongs were assayed, especially as Thomas
& William Chawner were well known makers. Thomas Chawner also made tongs on his own.
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Thomas Chawner tongs.
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