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Ford & Tupper, NY, Sterling Silver Asparagus Serving Tongs

Ford & Tupper, NY, Sterling Silver Asparagus Serving Tongs
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A form particularly popular with English silver makers, asparagus serving tongs also found expression among American manufacturers in the second half of the 19th century.

This particular pair are stamped "Ford & Tupper," located in New York City, and "Sterling."

Measuring 8 1/2" long and weighing 4.4 T. oz., they are typical in style and size with other commensurate pieces, but exhibit exceptional design.

There are two substantially scaled arms that are joined by a broad arch, which in this case is engraved "C.M.S." in Old English lettering.

Each arm has a pierced, rectangular, flat, 3" by 1 3/8", paddle end, the upper one of which has a slight folded over lip to secure a grip on the asparagus spears and prevent them from sliding.

There is a cross bar that yokes the two arms. This is held in place by a single screw, and is engraved in an Art Nouveau style "L.U." monogram, suggesting this was passed on in the early 1900s, about forty years after its manufacture.

The entire piece is extensively and finely engraved in a coherent period design, using a variety of techniques including wriggle work, bright cutting, and engine turning.

A firm associated with high quality silver, Ford & Tupper operated under this partnership name 1867-74; there is considerable question about whether it was a retailer exclusively or also a manufacturer. In the "Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers," author Dorothy Rainwater cites "New York Times" ads describing the firm as manufacturers. She further states "no details are given to indicate what kinds of items the firm may have produced on its own." Given the individuality of this piece, this may be a partial answer to that question.

This is mint estate condition, showing no wear whatsoever. The engraving remains crisp, the form is flawless, the finish bright, and there are no cracks, bends, or repairs.

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