Many Tickles and Tickells worked with metals. My own ancestors were blacksmiths and farriers and I wrote recently about a family of Tickells who had a bronze foundry in Canada. They were originally silversmiths, and there were other silversmiths with the surname in both the Midlands, London and Devon. The silver tongs above were made by one of the Devon silversmiths.
I am grateful to Matthew King, who supplied the images and much of the information in this post. Matt is a collector who specialises in silver cutlery, especially rare items. The tongs were bought at auction in Exeter and he was able to tell from the hallmark that they were made by a silversmith named Charles P Tickle, and assayed in Exeter in 1842.
Silver hallmarks in the UK date back to the medieval period. They have been described as representing Britain’s oldest form of consumer protection, as they are a guarantee of the purity of the precious metal. Assay offices were established in various cities to weigh items made of silver and gold and verify that they met the standards of purity required. They were then stamped with the mark of the assay office. Most British and Irish silver carries a number of stamps, not only the standard or purity mark but also the place of assay, a date letter, and the initials or mark of the maker.
Images of the hallmarks on the tongs are shown below. From the left these are – the sovereign’s head showing that duty was paid, the lion passant certifying that the silver meets the standard set by the assay office, the Exeter town mark, a castle with three towers, based on the arms of the city. Finally, the mark on the right gives the date of 1842.
Since the 14th century, the company or person responsible for sending a silver article for hallmarking had to register their own unique maker’s mark with the assay office. These tongs are stamped with the initials CPT, which enabled Matt to establish that they were made by Charles Potter Tickle, b. 1800, a silversmith who lived in Kingsbridge, Devon in the first half of the 19th century.
The Exeter assay office closed in 1883, so items with this hallmark are less common. These tongs are even more rare as they are the only known piece with Charles P Tickle’s mark.
Matt likes to explore the lives of the silversmiths who made the items in his collection, which is why he contacted me. Unfortunately I could only give him a little information about Charles P Tickle.
Charles was the son of John Nathan Tickle / Tickell”, a skilled watch and clockmaker (and possibly also a gunsmith). I believe John was widowed young and remarried. Charles was one of the children from his second wife, Elizabeth Brockedon. Several of the children died young and I don’t know of any male descendants with the Tickle name.
* Like many Tickles in Devon and Cornwall you will find this family’s surname spelled differently in different documents – sometimes as Tickle, sometimes Tickel, and sometimes Tickell.
Charles P Tickle lived in Kingsbridge, a small market-town 34 miles south-east of Exeter. It is situated on a branch of the Salcombe river and was described in Pigot’s Guide in 1830 as “a pleasant little place; the principal street, called Fore-street, runs the whole length of the town; the ground on each side descending, upon which are formed gardens, which much improves its appearance.”
To the best of my knowledge Charles never married. He can be found living with his sister, Ann Jenkins, in Fore Street, Kingsbridge, in both the 1841 and 1851 census. He appears to have died in 1852, while still in his early 50s.
Here is another image of the tongs. They really are rather beautiful.