History of Souvenir Spoon Collecting

History of Souvenir Spoon Collecting

Our teaspoon jewelry is the perfect combination of elegance and history. Like most things, souvenir spoons have a very specific story. 

Silver spoons have been popular since at least 1500 to commemorate births. Wealthy Americans traveling to Europe picked up on the trend, which had been popular in Europe since the mid 1800sSome of these travelers started collecting decorative spoons, often from the Netherlands and Germany, which had both a social convention of using many small utensils, many of which were carved with ornate scenes and decorations. Here are a few pieces from my Dutch family collection, mostly silver plated. 

antique sterling silver

 

The first souvenir spoon in the US was designed in 1889 by Galt & Bros of Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 100th anniversary of George Washington's inauguration. The Martha Washington spoon followed shortly thereafter - all advertised by mail order catalogue. These spoons had a raised profile on the handle. It was jeweler Seth Low, who translated the creativity of the European spoon tradition for the American market. In 1891 he made a Salem Witch spoon, then a second version which is even more interesting. 

image of early souvenir spoons

 

Here is an 1891 Seth Low spoon patent:

souvenir spoon patent

By the middle of 1891, souvenir spoons were being created for every town, fair, animal, school, and potentially historic event. Like buttons, spoons were small and easy to collect and display. Events like the Chicago Worlds Fair of 1893 played a role in the growth of the trend - with the confluence of improved production techniques, the US's first International event, the collapse of the silver market and the opportunity to market them to the 27 million visitors who attended the fair. The souvenir spoon tradition allowed people to collect keepsakes or at least aspire to feel worldly. They were convenient mementos and gifts. The fad lasted until WWII, when people focused on other things and time moved forward.

 

souvenir spoons
 

Our take on teaspoon jewelry is a unique approach - we create a carved marquis shape that is just as elegant now as it was in 1810 and 800 BC. Our California Poppy, shown below, pays homage to naturalist Sara Plummer Lemmon. Each piece has a secret history.  

poppy teaspoon necklace

 

We cast what we carve and then use the spoon ladle to make settings for antique buttons, as you can see here.

recycled sterling jewelry

Then we flatten and texture the spoon bowls using our rolling mill and create new settings, like this Victorian twinkle button:

antique button jewelry with spoon bowl 

Watch my Souvenir Spoon Chat - just over 4 minutes: 

 vintage teaspoon jewelry

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