This is a rare and very useful serving piece. It was made by John Wendt from New York and retailed through the important firm of Ball, Black & Co.
The form itself could be originally for serving asparagus, small sandwiches or desserts.
The tapered, oval handle is a bold design with three applied rosettes below a figural ram's head terminal.
The top and bottom blades are pierced and shaped like flowers with engraved details. The top blade is attached with a bolt and is constructed with an attached strip of silver which acts as a spring device.
About 1861, the important silversmith John Wendt became principal silversmith to Ball, Black & Co. (the best jeweler in the U.S. at the time) - a relationship similar to the one between John C. Moore and Tiffany & Co. Wendt's shop was located on the fifth and sixth floors above Ball, Black's & Co.'s famous retail store at Broadway and Prince Street in New York City.
These rare sterling tongs are marked 'BALL, BLACK & CO/ 925'. They measure 11.25 inches long, weigh 6.10 troy ounces, have had a monogram nicely removed from the thumb piece and are in very good antique condition with light wear and surface scratches.