What's the Naturalistic Spoon ?


Rococo Leaf Teaspoons

TeaSpoon_1750_DJ.JPGTeaspoons; 1750-60 Maker's mark only J.D in scrip below an acorn (John (I) Derussat). Cast and chased with leaves, a flower, a ladybird and a caterpillar. From a set of sixteen (only six of which are marked) and a pair of sugar tongs, in a contemporary box. Length about 120 mm.These teaspoons, which also occur in a variety having a leaf-shaped bowl, reflect that rococo interest in precisely imitated natural forms which was current from the late 1730s, and which in lager pieces of silver was often expressed by taking casts directly from nature. Most of the many varieties of naturalistic spoons are teaspoons using leaf, flower, and sometimes insect motiefs and they can probably identified with the 'Leaf teaspoons' mentioned in the Garrard Ledgers of 1748 to 1750.

Precise dating is difficult as they are often unmarked or bear only an identified maker's mark, but the type is generally believed to have begun by the early 1740s, and had probably ceased being made by 1770.

They are related to a type of mid-eighteenth-century spoon with a flattened stem of swirling foliage and to the 'whiplash' stem, which probably occurs as early as 1735 (when Paul de Lamerie made his famous Tea Equipage). These examples may be ascribed to a date towards the end of period, while the leaf-bowled examples of the type, which are usually better cast, may be dated rather earlier. At least one very political type exists; two rosebuds spring from its leafy stem handle, symbolizing the two Stuart Pretendors.

Matching sets of naturalistic teaspoons, boxed or unboxed, are rare. Both spoons and sugar tongs of this type were very popular during the nineteenth century, Rococo revival period, a fact which should be considered when dating unmarked specimens.

"English Silver Spoons", Michael Snodin



Rococo Salt Spoons


Oct10#43_2.jpgTop to bottom, left-hand colum 1. Salt shovel; 1750? Maker's mark JJ in script, Hanoverian stem. 89 mm. 2. Salt shovel; 1760-70, Maker's mark T W. Hanoverian stem. 90 mm 3. Salt Shovel; 1804 Birmingham, Makaer's mark Joseph Taylor, Old English stem, 90 mm. 4. Salt ladle; 1791, Maker's mark William Summer II, Bright-cut Old English stem, 102 mm. Salt ladle; 1827, Maker's mark of William Eley Jr., Plain shell pattern stem, 102 mm. Top to bottom, right-hand colum 1. Salt spoon; 1740-50?, Unmarked, 'Whiplash' cast stem, 105 mm. 2. Salt spoon; 1760-70?, Unmarked, Rococo foliate cast stem, 80 mm. 3. Salt spoon; 1775, Maker's mark of Hester Bateman, Feather-edged Old English stem, 93 mm. 4. Salt spoon; late 19c, Unmarked, Whiplash cast stem, 96 mm. 5. Salt spoon; 1812, Maker's mark of Thomas Holland II, Silver-gilt, 102 mm.Late-medival books of etiquette recommended that salt should be taken from the salt cellar either with a clean knife or with the fingers, and salt spoons were mentioned. They were, however, known by 1643 when one is mentioned in a will. The earliest existing type appears to be the salt shovel, although certain miniature spoons may also have been intended for salt. Among the earliest examples is an unmarked set of shovels of about 1730 in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, but dateable shovels before about 1750 are very rare.

The variety with a wavy-edged bowl is perhaps the earliest type, while a date from about 1750 onwards can be given to the lighter plain-bowled type. Rococo and other stems were also used on shovels, which remained popular beyond the end of the nineteenth century.

The curled foliage stem and the related 'whiplash' stem, both products of Rococo naturalism may be roughly dated from 1730s onwards by a set of teaspoons which combine both types and which are associated with three caddies of 1735 by Paul de Lamerie. Twisted salt spoons, perhaps of the whiplash type shown here, are mentioned in the Garrard Ledgers for 1738 and round-bowled whiplash spoons, although usually unmarked, are generally dated in the 1740s. At least one very rare set of pure whiplash teaspoons is known. The shoulders on the spoon with the curled foliage stem may place it in the 1760s.

Most salt ladles date from the 1770s onwards, reflecting the general development of small ladles to accompany the taller neo-classical vessels. They remained the most popular type of salt spoon into the nineteenth century.

Salt spoons have, of course, adopted many novel shapes in addition to these basic types. The bowls of salt spoons are frequently gilded to stop the salt corroding the silver.

"English Silver Spoons", Michael Snodin


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