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T. Nowlan, Petersburg & Richmond, Virginia Coin Silver Chicken Tongs

T. Nowlan, Petersburg & Richmond, Virginia Coin Silver Chicken Tongs
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Most American tongs of this size, 8 1/8" long and 2.7 T. oz. in this instance, and configuration, namely with a talon or fork grip combined with a spoon or cup grip, date from the mid 19th century.

Commonly identified as chicken (salad or fried) tongs, they might have have been used for various salads.

This coin silver pair are particularly attractive, combining several design features.

Each of the arms, for instance, has a twisted section, which style was particularly favored in the period. Secondly, there is extensive fine line bright cut and wriggle work engraving on all the outer surfaces. The arch is wide, 3/4", and inscribed with an "E.W." monogram.

Lastly, the grips are especially decorative, with the five claw talon tines etched in a scaled design on both sides, apparently by hand. The cup grip has scalloped edges and six round piercings.

It is marked "T. Nolan" for Thomas (1826-1901), who was a jeweler who worked first in Petersburg and then Richmond, Virginia. George Cutten in Silversmiths of Virginia notes, "Evidently the business was moved to Richmond after the Civil War," and operated under the name "Nowlan & Co."

As the mark on this is absent the "& Co.," it presumably dates prior to 1866 and traces to Petersburg rather than Richmond.

It is also stamped with an animal head over chevron manufacturer's mark, which, while similar to that used by James Watts, Catherine Hollan in Virginia Silversmiths, Their Lives and Marks, indicates was "an unidentified manufacturer associated with Philadelphia."

It is in mint estate condition, showing no polishing wear or damage such as bends or cracks. The engraving remains sharp and well-detailed and the finish has a perfectly aged patina.

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