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Which types of spoons are collectible?

Which types of spoons are collectible? - Maria's Condo

Antique silver spoons have a fascinating history that predates the widespread use of table forks. These spoons were not only practical eating utensils but also served specific functions such as measuring spices, basting meat, and preparing liquid food. The evolution of spoons over time has resulted in a wide variety of types and designs, making them highly collectible.

Types of Antique Silver Spoons

Early Spoons: Medieval to Tudor Periods

The earliest antique silver spoons date back to the medieval and Tudor periods. These spoons were typically small, measuring around 6-7 inches in length, with fig-shaped bowls. The stem or terminal of these spoons varied in design, ranging from simple sloping tops to elaborate figures such as lions or the Virgin Mary. London silversmiths like William Cawdell and William Simpson were renowned for their craftsmanship during this period.

17th Century: Changing Shapes and Patterns

In the 17th century, the shape of silver spoons started to change. Round bowls transformed into longer ovals, often with decorative features on the underside. The stems became longer and broader, allowing space for initials and dates to be engraved on the reverse. Trefid or wavy-end shapes became popular for the terminals of spoons during this period.

18th Century: Proliferation of Different Types

The introduction of dining services in the 18th century led to a proliferation of different types of silver spoons. Serving spoons, basting spoons, ladles, mote spoons, and marrow scoops were among the many variations created. Some spoons were specifically designed for measuring loose tea, featuring various bowl shapes and decorative motifs. The Arts and Crafts period also brought its own unique designs to the world of silver spoons.

19th Century: Specialized and Novelty Silver Spoons

The 19th century saw the production of specialized and novelty silver spoons. Caddy spoons, used for measuring tea from caddies to teapots, became increasingly popular. These spoons came in various styles, ranging from shovel and shell patterns to bird's wings. Silversmiths like Omar Ramsden, Sybil Dunlop, and George Jensen created unique and highly sought-after designs, appealing to both silverware collectors and enthusiasts of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Identifying Antique Silver Spoons

To determine if you have an antique silver spoon, it is important to look for certain hallmarks and markings. These can provide clues about the silver content, origin, and age of the spoon. Hallmarks are typically found on the reverse of the handle, below the bowl for spoons. Forks and knives may have marks on the wider portion or collar. Here are some key identification factors:

Hallmarks and Silverware Markings

Hallmarks are stamped symbols that indicate the silver content and quality of an item. In the United States, sterling silver items are usually marked with "Sterling" or "925/1000" to indicate that they contain 92.5% pure silver. In the UK, hallmarks have been used since the 14th century to ensure the quality of silver items. Researching and understanding these hallmarks can help you date and identify your antique silver spoon.

Sterling Silver vs. Silverplate

Antique silver spoons can be made of either sterling silver or silverplate. Sterling silver is composed of 92.5% pure silver and is marked with the word "Sterling" or ".925." Silverplate, on the other hand, is a base metal coated with a layer of silver. It is often marked with terms like EPNS (Electro Plated Nickel Silver) or EPBM (Electro Plated Britannia Metal). Sterling silver has a higher intrinsic value due to its silver content, while silverplate is more affordable but still prized for its aesthetics.

Cleaning and Examining Your Silverware

Before attempting to identify your antique silver spoon, it is important to clean it properly to reveal any markings or details. Use a gentle cleaning method, avoiding harsh chemicals or abrasive materials. Once cleaned, examine the spoon closely for any hallmarks, maker's marks, or unique patterns. Take note of these details and compare them to reference materials or online guides to identify the age, origin, and potential value of the spoon.

Determining the Value of Antique Silver Spoons

The value of antique silver spoons can vary greatly depending on several factors. Here are some key considerations when determining the value of your spoons:

Factors Affecting Value

Several factors influence the value of an antique silver spoon. These include the age, rarity, condition, craftsmanship, and historical significance of the spoon. Spoons with clear hallmarks, intricate designs, and renowned maker's marks tend to be more valuable. Additionally, spoons associated with important events or figures may command higher prices. The demand among collectors and the overall market conditions also play a role in determining value.

Price Ranges and Rarity

Antique silver spoons can range in price from as low as $5 to as high as $2500 or more. However, the majority of spoons sell for less than $60, with a significant percentage priced under $30. Spoons in excellent condition and with unique or elaborate designs may sell for more than $50, but only a small percentage exceed $100. Spoons priced above $300 are considered extremely rare.

Hallmarks, Manufacturer, and Pattern

The presence of clear hallmarks, reputable maker's marks, and distinctive patterns can significantly impact the value of an antique silver spoon. Hallmarks provide valuable information about the silver content and origin of the spoon. A renowned silversmith or maker, such as Omar Ramsden or George Jensen, can add value to a spoon. Unusual or rare patterns, such as Apostle spoons or intricate engravings, may also command higher prices among collectors.

Collecting Antique Silver Spoons

Collecting antique silver spoons can be a rewarding hobby that allows you to appreciate the craftsmanship and history of these unique items. Here are some aspects to consider when building your collection:

Specialty Collections

Many collectors choose to specialize in a particular type of antique silver spoon. This could include collecting spoons from a specific era, region, or silversmith. Some collectors focus on collecting spoons with unique designs or patterns, such as Apostle spoons or souvenir spoons. Specializing in a specific area of collecting allows you to delve deeper into the history and aesthetics of the spoons you acquire.

Geographical and Historical Significance

Antique silver spoons can also hold geographical or historical significance. Collecting spoons from a particular region, such as Sheffield in England or Glasgow in Scotland, can provide insight into the local silversmithing traditions and styles. Additionally, spoons associated with important historical events or figures can be highly sought-after among collectors. Consider the historical context and provenance of the spoons as you build your collection.

Notable Silversmiths and Makers

Certain silversmiths and makers have established a reputation for their exceptional craftsmanship and designs. Collecting spoons made by renowned silversmiths, such as William Cawdell or Omar Ramsden, adds value and interest to your collection. Research the work of notable silversmiths and seek out their pieces to enhance the depth and quality of your collection.

Popular Spoon Designs and Patterns

Antique silver spoons come in a wide array of designs and patterns. Fiddle pattern, shell pattern, and bead pattern are among the popular designs found on silver spoons. Apostle spoons, featuring the figure of an apostle on the handle, are particularly recognizable and collectible. Explore different patterns and designs to find those that resonate with your personal taste and collecting interests.

Tips for Collectors

As you embark on your journey of collecting antique silver spoons, here are some tips to enhance your experience:

Authenticity and Avoiding Forgeries

The market for antique silverware has seen its share of forgeries and reproductions. It is important to educate yourself about distinguishing authentic antique silver spoons from fakes. Familiarize yourself with the hallmarks, maker's marks, and design characteristics of genuine antique spoons. Be cautious when purchasing from unfamiliar sources and consider seeking professional appraisals or opinions to ensure the authenticity of your acquisitions.

Researching and Educating Yourself

Take the time to research and educate yourself about antique silver spoons. Explore books, publications, and online resources dedicated to silverware collecting. Join online communities and forums where you can engage with fellow collectors and learn from their experiences. Attend exhibitions, museums, and antique fairs to gain hands-on knowledge and discover new pieces for your collection. The more you know, the better equipped you will be to make informed decisions and appreciate the nuances of antique silver spoons.

Networking and Engaging with Collectors

Building connections with other collectors can be a valuable aspect of your collecting journey. Join collector societies or clubs dedicated to antique silverware. Attend collector events, conferences, and seminars to meet fellow enthusiasts and share your passion for silver spoons. Engaging with other collectors can provide opportunities for knowledge exchange, buying, selling, and even trading items to enhance your collection.

Selling Antique Silver Spoons

If you decide to part with some of your antique silver spoons, there are several avenues for selling them:

Online Marketplaces and Auctions

Online marketplaces, such as eBay or specialized antique websites, offer a platform to sell your antique silver spoons directly to buyers. Take high-quality photographs and provide detailed descriptions to attract potential buyers. Additionally, consider participating in online auctions dedicated to antique silverware. Auctions provide an opportunity to reach a wider audience and potentially achieve higher prices for your spoons.

Consignment and Appraisal Services

Consignment shops and antique dealers can assist in selling your antique silver spoons on your behalf. They will evaluate the spoons, determine their value, and negotiate with potential buyers. Consignment services typically charge a commission fee based on the final sale price. Alternatively, you can seek professional appraisal services to determine the value of your spoons and receive guidance on the best selling methods.

Establishing a Fair Price

When selling your antique silver spoons, it is important to establish a fair price that reflects the value of the spoons and the current market conditions. Research similar spoons for sale to get an idea of their price range. Consider factors such as rarity, condition, provenance, and demand among collectors. Consult with experts or appraisers to ensure you are pricing your spoons appropriately and maximize the potential return on your investment.

Caring for Antique Silver Spoons

Proper care and maintenance are essential to preserve the beauty and value of your antique silver spoons. Follow these guidelines to ensure their longevity:

Storage and Display

Store your antique silver spoons in a clean and dry environment to prevent tarnishing and damage. Use acid-free tissue or cloth to wrap individual spoons and prevent scratching. Consider using anti-tarnish strips or pouches to further protect them. When displaying your spoons, avoid direct sunlight and excessive humidity, as these can accelerate tarnishing. Regularly dust and clean your display area to prevent the build-up of dirt or contaminants.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning antique silver spoons requires gentle and careful handling. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can damage the surface. Use a mild silver cleaner or create a homemade cleaning solution using warm water and a gentle soap. Gently polish the spoons with a soft cloth or a silver polishing cloth, being cautious not to rub too vigorously. If necessary, seek professional cleaning services from experts experienced in handling antique silverware.

Professional Restoration and Repair

In the event that your antique silver spoons require restoration or repair, it is best to consult with professional silversmiths or restoration experts. Attempting DIY repairs or restoration techniques can inadvertently cause further damage and reduce the value of your spoons. Professional restorers have the knowledge, skills, and specialized tools to handle delicate silverware and restore them to their original condition while preserving their historical integrity.

Resources for Antique Silver Spoon Collectors

As an antique silver spoon collector, there are numerous resources available to enrich your knowledge and enhance your collecting experience:

Books and Publications

Explore books and publications dedicated to antique silverware collecting. Some recommended titles include "English and Scottish Silver Spoons" by George Evelyn Prentice How and Janice Penrice How, and "The Finial," a bi-monthly journal of the Silver Spoon Club of Great Britain. These resources provide valuable insights, historical context, and information on collecting techniques and trends.

Online Communities and Forums

Join online communities and forums dedicated to silverware collecting. Websites like the Silver Spoon Collectors Club and offer platforms for collectors to connect, share their collections, and discuss various aspects of antique silver spoons. Engaging with fellow collectors can provide valuable insights, advice, and opportunities for buying, selling, or trading spoons.

Museums and Exhibitions

Visit museums and exhibitions that showcase antique silverware collections. These institutions often provide educational displays, expert-guided tours, and temporary exhibitions focused on silver spoons and other silverware. Museums such as the Victoria and Albert Museum in London or the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York have extensive silver collections and offer a wealth of information for collectors.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I determine the age of an antique silver spoon?

Determining the age of an antique silver spoon requires examining the hallmarks, maker's marks, and design characteristics. Hallmarks provide valuable information about the silver content and can be used to date the spoon. Maker's marks can indicate the silversmith or manufacturer, which can help establish the period of production. Additionally, the design and style of the spoon can provide clues about its age, as different eras had distinct design trends.

What are the most valuable types of antique silver spoons?

The value of antique silver spoons can vary depending on factors such as rarity, condition, historical significance, and desirability among collectors. Some of the most valuable types include spoons from the medieval and Tudor periods, spoons with elaborate silversmithing or intricate designs, and spoons associated with important historical events or figures. Apostle spoons, caddy spoons, and spoons by renowned silversmiths are also highly sought-after and can command higher prices.

Are there any famous or rare antique silver spoons?

Yes, there are several famous and rare antique silver spoons that have garnered attention among collectors. Examples include the Henry VIII apostle spoon with a terminal of St. Matthias by William Simpson, which sold for £28,000 at auction. Apostle spoons featuring all 12 apostles are also highly collectible. Additionally, spoons associated with important historical figures or events, such as royal commemoratives or spoons from famous silversmiths, can be considered both rare and valuable.

Can I use antique silver spoons for everyday dining?

While antique silver spoons were originally designed for functional use, many collectors choose to preserve their spoons as collectibles rather than using them for everyday dining. Antique silver spoons are often delicate and require special care to prevent damage or tarnishing. If you prefer to use silverware for dining, consider using modern silver-plated or stainless steel spoons that mimic the design and aesthetics of antique silver spoons.


Antique silver spoons offer a glimpse into the craftsmanship, history, and aesthetics of past eras. Whether you are a seasoned collector or just starting your collection, understanding the types, identification process, valuation factors, and care guidelines will enhance your experience and appreciation of these unique and valuable pieces. With the knowledge gained from this guide, you can embark on your journey to discover and collect antique silver spoons with confidence and enthusiasm.


Everything you need to know about collecting antique silver spoons

Spoon Values

Silver Spoons



Marias Condo
Marias Condo

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