Thursday, January 19, 2012

E & J Bass silverplate sugar tongs

Several years ago a friend needed sugar tongs so I gave her a vintage silverplate set I'd gotten at a tearoom (now closed) which had stocked lots of old ones. I still had a couple of new pair, and an old sterling silver pair, but I always knew I'd like to find some old silverplate ones again one day. I wasn't in any hurry, though, so I was quite pleased when I happened upon this pair for $6.95 at an antique mall the other day. Ladies at my tea parties always seem to enjoy using the sugar tongs, perhaps because this is an accoutrement we don't tend to use in everyday life.

Now first of all, I must say right up front I am *horrible* at photographing silver items, so bear with me today! But I wanted to show what I originally believed to be an antique finish on this design. I polished and polished—and I happen to love polishing silver—but still had blackness around the design. I thought perhaps it's supposed to be this way, but then I saw this same pair online (for $48), all nice and sparkly with no black. Back to the drawing board! (Or the polishing board, as it were.)

The other fun thing about finding old silver is that it sets me on a mystery hunt to find out about the maker. I'm always pleased to be able to see the hallmarks on silver, and this time I was searching for E & I B until I cleaned the tongs and found the letters are actually E & J B. My hopefully helpful hint: Sometimes I have trouble seeing the hallmarks even with my reading glasses and a magnifying glass, but if I take a photo and enlarge it on my computer, that always works! (And the spoon part isn't mildewed, by the way. That green color is a reflection of trees or grass since I was outdoors!) A little online surfing revealed the letters stand for the E & J Bass company in New York, which made sterling and silverplate pieces from 1890-1930. There are so many websites devoted to silver hallmarks these days that if you don't know whether something is American or British, or whether it's silverplate or sterling, by all means start typing what you *do* know about the piece into a search engine and you'll soon have plenty of helpful information!


  1. Once again... you've found a bargain treasure!

  2. What a treasure -- I love sugar tongs as well -- there's something about using lump sugar that seems so civilized!!!! And I love my sugar sifter spoons as well -- those are also fun to use!

  3. Hi Angela
    These tongs have a nice design and I would use a toothbrush dipped in the cleaner for those stubborn black areas. (that's how I do it anyway)
    I always use sugar cubes (brown ones) when entertaining and as you said, the ladies enjoy using the tongs. My grandchildren have been instructed on the use of them for our tea parties too.

  4. How nice that you found such pretty tongs. I believe one of the attractions for using them is being able to take the time to be delicate. Taking care of children, husbands, and work do not leave us with many opportunities for delicacy.

    If you line a small stainless steel pan with a piece of foil, fill it a bit with water, sift some baking soda into, and boil it with your silver item submerged the tarnish will come off. It is a scientific thing. Only one type of metal surface at a time though. I've been meaning to do a blog post about this for ages.

  5. What a nice treasure. It's amazing what comes to life when an old piece is cleaned.

  6. How pretty - I also love sugar tongs. They add an elegant touch,

  7. My silver sugar tongs were one of the luxuries I kept when we moved to the RV ... they are so much fun to use. And your tongs are quite lovely! :)

  8. Your sugar tongs are very pretty - nice price too.

  9. Demarara sugar cubes are always on my tea table with sugar tongs. It's always something we stock in our antique webstores...antique sterling & silverplate. Many people have never seen them. They are such a fun part of taking tea. especially in the English tradition. Those are so sweet! I really like the classical design. One lump or two???


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