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Author Topic:   Spoons with Houses
Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1768
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 03-05-2007 07:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Over the years, I have picked up several spoons decorated in the bowl with engraved houses. Although a couple are dated, there are no other identifying inscriptions, leaving their exact significance somewhat of a mystery. I can probably at least conclude that these are not souvenir spoons of historical homes, but rather much more personal mementos, perhaps housewarming gifts, anniversary presents, or a souvenir of when the house was completed. However, I find it curious that these spoons have never even had so much as a monogram (at least the ones I have seen). Here are a few examples of these interesting spoons.

The first is an Unger Brothers teaspoon with a finely engraved depiction of a modest house as well as a date of 1889. Since the spoon pattern itself was not patented until 1904, I would have to guess that the spoon signifies either a 15th wedding anniversary or the 15th anniversary of owning the house.

These two are just decorated with the houses, there are no dates.

The last is a coin silver fiddle dessert/place spoon by N. Arnzen of Fall River, MA. The spoon is engraved "1843" on the reverse and the bowl is gilded and engraved with a Federal style home. I suspect the spoon itself is from circa 1810s-1820s, but was not gilt and engraved until 1843.

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vathek

Posts: 962
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 03-06-2007 04:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for vathek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I personally think the last spoon is Greek Revival, not Federal, and the date of 1843 would then be appropriate for the date of the house. Just a thought. Interesting spoons.

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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1768
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 03-06-2007 05:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think the Federal style of architecture tended to incorporate neoclassical elements, such as columns. I do think that the 1843 date was inscribed on the spoon when the house was engraved in the bowl, however, I can't say if the date of 1843 has any direct pertinence to the date that house was actually constructed.

[This message has been edited by Paul Lemieux (edited 03-06-2007).]

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ahwt

Posts: 2173
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 03-06-2007 10:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Greek Revival style was very popular and still is. Some of the least successful house plans seem to be the ones that incorporated elements, seeming at random, from various styles.
Do you think these engravings represented actual structures are simply the imagination of the engraver?


[This message has been edited by ahwt (edited 03-06-2007).]

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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1768
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 03-06-2007 02:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think they must represent actual structures. Particularly since some of them are dated. For example, I would find it very bizarre if, around 1904 or so, some engraver just picked up and engraved an Unger teaspoon with a house and the date 1889.

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FWG

Posts: 845
Registered: Aug 2005

iconnumber posted 03-07-2007 02:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FWG     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm jealous, I think those are wonderful examples and I've never seen one of the sort. I would also guess that they are real houses.

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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1768
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 03-07-2007 08:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is one more house spoon. This is just a flimsy, twisty handle demitasse spoon. Actually, most of these house spoons have been made with spoons that would have been relatively inexpensive new. This spoon has no date or monogram, but is from about the same time frame. I find there is something intriguing and mysterious about these spoons decorated only with unidentified, nondescript houses and no further clues to their significance.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 03-10-2007 01:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
These are great spoons. Most likely, dealers would categorize them as souvenir types. The dates would not bother me much as such dates refer to something other than the making of the spoon. Probably the date is of importance to the house, not the spoon.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 03-10-2007 04:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The received wisdom, at least what I got, is that spoons that show buildings etc and are handmade were part of the training of silver workers. They took old spoons, found subjects that would be salable and let the young person work on it. The first task is to transfer a drawing done on flat paper into the bowl. Which is very tricky: going from flat to concave without distortion is a real difficult endeavor. Then once the broad outlines were in the bowl, the engraving, chasing and bright cutting began. The ones Paul shows have a variety of skill levels represented. But doing any one of these would be a great learning opportunity.

The rarest of these one of a kind spoons seems to be those depicting executions. I have only ever encountered one of them. The bowl had a view of someone dangling from a gallows with a date.

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