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Sugar tongs

Object Number: 
1955.43
Date: 
1784-1786
Medium: 
Silver
Dimensions: 
Overall: 1 x 6 x 1 7/8 in. (2.5 x 15.2 x 4.8 cm) Silver Weight: 2 oz (troy) 3.1 dwt (67 g)
Marks: 
engraved: on the arch: "FMA" in script stamped: inside the arch: "Myers" in script in a conforming rectangle
Description: 
Silver sugar tongs; bow-form shaped above tapering arms with hollow oval grips; bright-cut floral decoration and geometric border on arms, grips and arch; arch engraved, "TMA" in script; maker's mark stamped inside the arch.
Gallery Label: 
During the eighteenth century, households obtained sugar in large cone-shaped loaves. Pieces were cut from the hard loaf with sugar nippers, a sturdy cutting device made of steel. During teadrinking, cut pieces were transferred from sugar dish to teacup using delicate sugar tongs such as these. The earliest form, made in England beginning around 1685, was probably inspired by fireplace tongs. By 1715, sugar tongs evolved into a scissor form, sometimes spring-loaded at the cross. The bow form, as seen here, made of one piece of metal bent in a U-shape to form two spring arms, was fashionable by the 1770s. The exterior of the bow and arms provided ample surface area for fashionable bright-cut engraving. These tongs, among the earliest dated examples of bright-cut engraving in New York, were made for merchant Thomas Arden, Jr. (1750-1834), and his wife, Mary Boyle (d. 1786), who married in New York City's Presbyterian Church in 1773.
Credit Line: 
Gift of Mr. John B. Morris, Jr.
Provenance: 
Thomas Arden, Jr. (1750-1834) and Mary Boyle (d. 1786); probable descent to their niece Mary Elizabeth Babcock (1808-1851), who married William Lewis Morris (1805-1864); to their son John Babcock Morris (b. 1839), who married Mary E. Faitoute (b. 1845); to their son John Babcock Morris, Jr. (1881-1957), the donor.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group