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tline3open  Gorham Bon Bon Spoon

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Author Topic:   Gorham Bon Bon Spoon
David C Walters

Posts: 64
Registered: Apr 2012

iconnumber posted 05-03-2012 02:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C Walters     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello Everyone,

I know my topics are all over the place...but I have had a lot of silver questions on my mind the last few months and am excited to have this forum to pose them in. Bear with me!

One of my (many) questions regards this Gorham bon bon spoon marked H223 that I picked up about a year ago. It is a generously weighted cast piece that features a realistic depiction of a leaf. I had contacted Sam Hough to see if there was any information in the Gorham archives about this item and he was able to provide a treasure trove of information regarding when it was produced, what it was originally priced at, etc. What the records failed to illuminate, however, is the type of leaf displayed in the bowl.

Here are some photos of the front and reverse of the spoon:

And a close up of the leaf in question:

I know next to nothing about leaves and would love any input any of you might have regarding what this leaf might be. The person I purchased it from called it a "Virginia Creeper Leaf." I have looked up what these leaves are supposed to look like and the image above is a likely match. However, I haven't found any Virginia Creeper Leaf images with berries on the branches...and this spoon definitely has berries all over the bowl. Any ideas as to what could be going on? Was Gorham known to have added unrealistic details to otherwise accurate depictions of plants? Maybe to make it look more festive?

Any thoughts are appreciated.

Thank you!

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Posts: 953
Registered: Dec 2002

iconnumber posted 05-03-2012 03:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragonflywink     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Have seen some pretty fanciful depictions of flora on silver by most manufacturers, even when identified in ads or patents - and there's always the possibility that the common name for a flower or plant might not be what everyone would think of. That said, suspect that your seller most likely IDed it properly.

It's a lovely piece, perhaps you might share the information from the archives?


From the National Park Service site:

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Posts: 1202
Registered: Feb 2005

iconnumber posted 05-03-2012 03:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jersey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello David!

Try a search for Virginia creeper berries.
That might be it.

Hope this helps.
BTW lovely spoon, nice find!


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Posts: 2022
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 05-03-2012 05:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Holly leaves and berries maybe the ones.

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Posts: 953
Registered: Dec 2002

iconnumber posted 05-03-2012 06:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragonflywink     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Believe a bit too much artistic license would have to have been taken, if the designer intended it to depict Holly.....It's definitely a five-lobed leaf on both bowl and handle - wasn't a particularly uncommon decorative motif, probably more often called Woodbine at the time.


[This message has been edited by dragonflywink (edited 05-03-2012).]

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David C Walters

Posts: 64
Registered: Apr 2012

iconnumber posted 05-04-2012 08:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C Walters     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you all for your comments!

Now after seeing the photos of Virginia Creeper leaves with the berries I can see that the seller most likely identified it correctly.

I will be sure to post some of the information from the archives later tonight.


[This message has been edited by David C Walters (edited 05-04-2012).]

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David C Walters

Posts: 64
Registered: Apr 2012

iconnumber posted 05-09-2012 09:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C Walters     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Sorry it has taken me so long to follow up to your question regarding Sam Hough's findings. Here is part of what he sent me:

"The H223 Bon Bon Spoon is entered in the Sterling Flatware costing book number 10 (vol. 30 in the costing series), page 252. These were made in batches of a dozen, the first being produced 1 July 1908.

Twelve spoons contained 15 troy oz. of silver valued at $10.50. The silver was cast, which took four hours at a labor cost of $2 for a dozen. A silversmith worked on the castings for seven and a half hours at a labor cost of $2.63 (somewhat over half an hour each) to make them into spoons.

Polishing consisted of bobbing, which took an hour and three quarters at $0.44 for the dozen. Finishing of fifteen minutes – a little more than a minute each – cost $0.08.

The total of silver and labor costs came to $15.60. To this were added 20% overhead, $3.13; 30% profit, $4.64; and 7.5% administrative costs, $1.17, for a sum of $24.64 for the dozen or $2.05 each.

The net factory price was set at $2 each, with $0.25 added for gilding each one.

It appears that these were made over a period of years and the price raised to reflect inflation from the First World War, rising to $5 each by the 1920’s."

It is amazing what that man can dig up. I honestly didn't expect anything to come of my contacting him, but he really surprised me.

The only thing I question is how many of these were actually made. I have scanned sales for the last few years and I could only find one other ever having been sold on there. It doesn't seem as though anyone else I've talked to has ever come across one either. It really is a beautiful piece and I am thrilled to have found it. I paid a great price for it too!


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Ulysses Dietz

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 05-09-2012 03:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wouldn't rule out American Chestnut leaves and prickly nuts. The trees are now largely gone from the US, but they thrive in Paris, and the leaves are a distinct icon of that city now. Of course horse chestnut leaves are not all that different.

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Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 05-10-2012 12:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The leaves look right, but American chestnuts come in a fuzzy husk instead of one with a few spines, like on the spoon:

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