WB is one of the maker’s marks for which it is impossible to be sure who the actual maker is. For the sugar tongs examined, there are three main possibilities:

William Barrett I was apprenticed to John Raymond and turned over to Joseph Steward II. Joseph Steward II is a known maker of sugar tongs so William Barrett I will have learnt the art of making sugar tongs when he worked for Joseph Steward. He entered his first mark on 9th March 1771 as a small-worker and entered several more up to 1790.

William Brockwell entered his first mark on 23rd December 1776 and a second on 20th October 1802. He was known to be working up to 1825.

William Burch was apprenticed to Thomas Shepherd who was known as a maker of sugar tongs. He entered his only mark on 7th March 1788 and was known to be working up to at least October 1798. William Burch will no doubt have learnt the art of making sugar tongs as an apprentice.

There are also other makers around this time, so the tongs may not even be by one of the names above. Given the similarity in appearance of the maker’s marks on the tongs examined, and the similarity in style of the tongs, I have assumed that all the tongs were made by the same maker. I have also assumed that the maker was William Burch. This is because his mark is shown with a pellet between the “W” and “B” whereas William Barrett’s is not. Unfortunately the attribution cannot be deemed to be certain as the evidence is flimsy at best.

All of the “WB” tongs attributed to William Burch are dated between c1780 and 1790. Some of the earlier pairs are marked in the bowls.

Click on a picture for more details

c1780 - 1784

c1780 - 1784

c1780 - 1784

c1780 - 1784

c1786 - 1790

c1786 - 1790

c1786 - 1790

1790/91