Georgian Silver Sugar Tongs by Graham Hodges

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Book - Georgian Silver Sugar Tongs by Graham Hodges - 256pages 234mm x 156m

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At last, a book specifically devoted to covering the subject of the widely collected field of sugar tongs. This book covers English, Scottish& Irish silver tongs from the Georgian period (i.e. from the mid-18th Century through to circa 1820). 

Hodges has used his own collection of sugar tongs and the knowledge gained in it's assemblage to produce this tome. The book is profusely illustrated with photographs of examples taken from this huge collection. The enthusiasm of the collector, both academically and aesthetically, is evident in abundance. 

The book begins with a brief introduction, before an in-depth discussion of the styles of tongs available from the period covered - cast, sprung, concave, bright-cut etc. The following chapters cover subjects such as the personalised engravings to be found, awareness of damaged/repaired items, recognition of hallmarks and how to look after a collection of tongs.  

The majority of the book deals with the changing forms of tongs to be found from each region with chapters headed by assay office centres. Interesting connections can be made between different makers and regions. London makers are covered in fifty four engrossing pages in Chapter 9. There are illustrations of pieces by all the major makers of sugar tongs from England, Scotland and Ireland and brief details of their working lives are provided. The Bateman family are covered in particular detail and an entire chapter is devoted to this important sugar tongs workshop.

One of the most important aspects of the book is the comprehensive catalogue of makers. The alphabetical list of makers from each centre is accompanied by an actual image of their particular mark taken from a pair of tongs within Hodges' collection. The marks have been painstakingly researched and although I suspect the list is continuing to grow, the provision provides a very useful foundation for sugar tong attribution.

The burgeoning collector will find everything required within the pages of this book to both inspire and aid in forming a collection of sugar tongs. For me, the main disappointment with the book, is the short span of years covered. Although the Georgian period covers the main period of development of the sugar tongs form (cast, sprung and bowed) it is really only half the story. The utensil continued to evolve throughout the nineteenth century, particularly with the ingenious novelty forms that were made and that nowadays form the elite end of this collectable genre - volume two perhaps?

Rating *****

Hardback 

256 pages 234mm x 156m

Published: 2007

Publisher: Tongtwister Publications