This pair of tongs was made to be paired with an ice bowl first introduced on April 15, 1870. The ice bowl proved very popular, and was sometimes accompanied by a serving spoon; the matching ice tongs are an even greater rarity. The iconography of these tongs relates to the 1867 purchase of Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million. Also at this time, the Bostonian, Frederic Tudor (1783-1864) developed the technology to harvest, market, and sell ice to an affluent audience. Ice was a luxury, and these ice tongs and bowls provided the perfect accessory to a status symbol. (See: Samuel J. Hough, "The Class of 1870: Gorham Sterling Ice Bowls," Silver Magazine, September-October 1989, pp. 30-33)
A pair of tongs and an ice bowl were sold in these Rooms, January 15, 2004, lot 135.