Silver scissor form “sugar
nips” date from c1720, slowly changing c1770 to the U-shaped
form usually called “bows” or “tongs”. “Pivot-sprung tongs” were used for a few years c1760. In the
William IV period,
the scissor was revived in a cast floral and
A few tongs were also made in the Victorian and
Edwardian period –
a favorite being the novelty “harlequin” form.
Although all forms can be called tongs, usually only the
scissor forms are called “nips”.
Early 18th century
sugar came in large chunks, being divided in the kitchen into
smaller chips –
that division being done by something that looked a
bit like steel coal tongs.
The sugar bits were then put into open
bowls for delivery by the sugar nips (or tongs) into tea –
the early part of the 18th century cost about a year’s
salary for the average man.
Eighteenth Century Sugar Tea
Tongs, An Illustrated Guide for the Collector, Dr. David
Shlosberg of the UK, (2004),
is the only book ever written on early
to mid-18 century sugar nips.
Dr. Shlosberg researched over 1000
pairs of nips, finding no two pairs of nips to be alike.
information about early nips and tongs, see :