Sunday, May 1, 2011

Silver - Collecting Spoons

Spoons are a great item to collect. They vary in size from quite tiny to quite large but generally they do not take up too much space.

You can find spoons from the 16th century right through to now. Some can be very expensive and others quite low cost. Some special things to look out for are the older and rarer items and you may be lucky or diligent enough to have one or two in your collection.

Apostle spoons, these have ends on the stem that depict the 12 apostles and a full set will also have the Master spoon making 13 in all. The Master spoon is larger and depicts Jesus. You will be very unlikely to get a set of these but may find an isolated spoon, again not very likely but worth looking for. These spoons originate in the 15th century and then stop being produced around 1660-70. These spoons were popular as baptismal gifts for the wealthy in the 16th century. The Maidenhead and Lion Sejant spoon is also from around this period and has the figure of a female, or Lion instead of an apostle.

Early spoons often have hexagonal handles and a finial. The sliphead spoon is another early spoon that has no finial and the handle is cut away on an angle.

The most prolific cast terminal/finial is the sealtop and hence the sealtop spoon. This ends in a circular disc at the top of the handle and often had the initials of the owner and could therefor be used as a seal. Earlier spoons had a small seal and this tended to get larger in later productions.

Following this period the spoon stem transitioned from being narrow to the widening Puritan type handle of the 18th century and resembles the spoon handle of today. These changes occurred very gradually and the bowl also became deeper and more functional.

Rat-Tail spoon. This relates to how the handle was attached to the bowl and describes a long narrowing join from the handle onto the back of the bowl. As the stem widened the Trefid became popular on the end of the handle, this describing an end having three lobes. Early examples have th date letter struck high on the handle. The rat-tail disappeared around 1725 but some later examples were produced.

Spoons with die struck motifs also tend to be early spoons and the handle type gives a better indication of the period in which it was produced, narrow hexagonal stems being earlier than puritan stems.

Teaspoons have been produced from around 1670 and early ones are seldom fully marked, only having the makers mark and the lion passant. You may be very fortunate and find one with a twisted handle but these are quite rare. Picture back teaspoons became popular in the 18th century, the picture being stamped on the outer of the bowl.

The Mote-spoon, this is a puzzling spoon, also known as the stirrer-spoon, mullberry-spoon and olive-spoon. It has a long tapering stem ending in a barbed spike and often has a rat-tail attachment to the bowl. The bowl is usually pierced and the spoon is not likely to be fully marked. There should be a makers mark and lions head erased on early ones, lion passant on later ones. It is assumed that this spoon is a fore-runner of the tea strainer. The tea strainer came into service around the 1790's.

Suckett- spoon, appears in the 1660's and has the rat-tail to bowl attachment and a fork on the opposite end of the stem. They are usually quite small, 5 to 5.5 inches and made from very thin gauge silver.

Basting-spoon, these date from the 1670's often having long trefid handles and deep pierced bowls that later gave way to an unpierced bowl.

Marrow-spoon. This is an adaptation of the trefid / rat-tail spoon with a hollowed out stem. It was created and used to extract the bone marrow from cooked bones, this being regarded as a delicacy.

Medicine spoons are usually from the 18th and 19th century. Often double ended with a different dose measure on each end. There is also the caster-oil spoon that formed a closed recepticle with a hollow handle. This allowed the giver of the dose to restrict the flow of caster-oil until the recipient has the bowl in the mouth.

Spoons continued to be developed through to the present day and come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes.


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