Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

You may be interested to know that this item was almost certainly an egg lifter. If one owned a Paul Storr egg boiler then one would also have an egg lifter, similar to this one (above) from 1817, weighing 3oz and at 7in (7.8cm) in length.

John Reckless

ATG asked silver dealer Michael Baggott to give his view:
In Georgian silver there are any number of larger serving pieces, some readily identifiable in their purpose (sugar sifters, salad forks, fish slices), others that will illicit prolonged discussion between collectors as to their exact use (we often have nothing better to do).

The remarkable pair of Irish silver tongs sold in Dublin are a prime example. Salad tongs would tend to have much larger, flatter bowls with one or both bowls with shallow serrations to the edge.

Egg servers of the period certainly do exist, though all the examples I have seen have distinctly egg shaped and sized bowls and tend to be much shorter (6-7in long, certainly not 11).

Unless these oversize Irish examples were for Finn McCool to put gigantic lumps of sugar in his cuppa, the explanation may be a little more straightforward.

The Georgians had numerous forgotten delicacies on their table, more often than not requiring the use of fine tongs for service in polite society. What make this pair stand out was the fact that they were modelled as a much larger version of the standard everyday pair of sugar tongs.

This is an area of silver collecting subject to an enormous growth of interest and price rises over the last decade or so – thanks to online markets, the ease of postage and the sheer variety of period, maker and design.

Should two leading collectors have set their sights firmly on what they considered to be the only true ‘oversize’ pair that they would ever see, then the remarkably high price achieved might well be explained.