When thinking of collectibles, spoons are usually low on anyone’s list of items worth collecting. We use them daily to drink and eat and give them little thought. Turns out collectors disagree with that and are always looking for the perfect antique spoon to add to their collection.
Spoons have been around since ancient times, as evidenced by burial sites in Egypt from 1000 BC. Over the centuries, bronze, silver, gold, and porcelain have been used to create beautiful, unique pieces. The craftsmanship of these spoons was so high that many were kept as prized possessions and passed down as family heirlooms.
Collectible spoons come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. For example, souvenir spoons are popular among collectors because each spoon is typically decorated with symbols or landmarks from a specific place. Religious spoons are just as popular, often featuring scenes from the bible or handles in the shape of crosses.
If you’re lucky enough to own an antique spoon, it could be worth quite a bit of money. Collectors will pay top dollar for utensils made of precious metals or in mint condition.
This article will teach you about the valuable antique spoons found worldwide. We’ll examine what makes them so desirable to collectors, popular designs and materials used to craft these pieces of history, and how to properly care for your antique spoon collection.
The History of Spoons
As is often the case with such mundane items, the spoon has a long and fascinating history.
At the beginning of their history, they were used to eat food such as honey or soup. Over time, spoons evolved from simple wooden utensils to ornate silver pieces with decorative handles and intricate designs.
Though the oldest spoons were made from shells, as early as 3000BC, by 1000BC, spoons had become metal implements. Evidence for this can be found in Egyptian tombs of the period.
Spoons often included intricate designs, such as family crests or symbols of power, and precious gemstones set into the handles. In Europe, these utensils were commonly used during medieval times, and only in the 1500s did spoons begin to be made of silver. From then on, the scoop became a luxury item and was used as a status symbol.
In the 18th century, spoons began to be produced in great numbers as a result of the Industrial Revolution, leading to the mass production of spoons. By the 19th century, spoons had become more affordable and were commonly used in households worldwide.
The Romans are credited for inventing the idea of collecting spoons, which led to various styles made from different metals becoming available throughout Europe. This included beautiful sterling silver pieces with intricate carvings and bejeweled handles.
The Victorians also had an affinity for spoons, often collecting them from their travels. They were particularly fond of ornate designs featuring decorative patterns or scenes from literature or nature. This fascination spread to America during the 19th century and continues to this day.
Evaluating Antique Spoons
Evaluating a spoon is no easy task, as it requires a keen eye and in-depth knowledge of the item. As with every other collectible, the main factor to look for is the piece’s rarity. The rarer the thing is, the more valuable it will be. The problem then becomes: how do we figure out a scoop’s rarity?
Here’s what you should be looking at:
- Was the spoon handmade?
- Does the scoop have a unique design or engraving?
- Is it a particular type of serving spoon?
These are all critical questions to ask when assessing a scoop. Handmade spoons, for instance, will be much more valuable than mass-produced ones, as they are typically one of a kind and more intricate, making them rarer. Let’s analyze these factors in greater detail.
Also Read: Is Sterling Silver Worth Anything?
Recognizing an Handmade Spoon
Spoons have been handmade for the majority of their history. However, where a machine can produce a seemingly identical spoon in a matter of minutes, a handcrafted one can take days or weeks to complete.
Handmade spoons are often easier to identify because they have certain features that mass-produced versions lack. These include intricate engravings, unique shapes, and fine details you won’t find on machine-made utensils. Many handmade spoons will also have the maker’s mark or initials somewhere on the item.
Handmade spoons are extremely rare, as most have been produced in small batches or by individual artisans. Plus, time took its toll on them over the years, meaning fewer of these items exist today.
Unique Design or Engraving
When looking at a spoon, you should always consider any designs it may feature. Many antique spoons are decorated with intricate carvings, symbols, or even the names of their owners.
For example, check out this Gold Slug Souvenir Spoon’s design:
This is the kind of design collectors are after. They will gladly pay top dollar to own such a unique item. These features can significantly increase the value of a spoon, as they make it stand out from the rest.
In addition to looking for decorative features, you should also check for engravings. If a spoon has an inscription or message, this could mean that the piece was made for someone special and is quite rare. These inscriptions often contain valuable information about the owner, such as the date of their birthday or a special event they attended. Finding these engravings can be the key to unlocking an antique spoon’s value.
Type of Serving Spoon
The serving spoon you are looking at will also determine its worth. For instance, some spoons were designed for specific occasions or used in particular ceremonies. These spoons are often made from precious metals and can fetch a hefty price at auction.
- Bouillons — Bouillons are designed for consuming liquid soups. They have a large, round bowl and a long handle, making them great for scooping liquid dishes.
- Sauce ladles — These are used for pouring sauces over food. They have a shallow bowl and a short handle.
- Dessert spoons — These spoons have a much smaller bowl than soup ladles, making them perfect for dishing out small amounts of food.
- Finger bowls — Finger bowls were traditionally used to clean one’s hands before a meal. They have deep indentations in their handles that make it easy to hold the bowl and dip your fingers in the water.
- Demitasses — Demitasses are small, shallow spoons designed for drinking coffee or tea. They have short handles and a round bowl.
The Most Valuable Antique Spoons
Paying thousands of dollars for a spoon might sound crazy, but collectors are willing to shell out big bucks for the right antique scoops. We made a list of the most expensive spoons ever sold at auction.
Editor’s note: These are single spoons unless specified.
A Paul Revere, Jr. Silver Table Spoon, Boston, circa 1780 — $11,875.00
This spoon was crafted by Paul Revere, Jr., the legendary American patriot, and silversmith. The letters ” A.A. ” are engraved on the handle, and the scoop sports a simple yet elegant design. Paul Revere spoons are highly sought-after among collectors, making them very valuable.
A Cased Set of Russian Silver Teaspoons and Demitasse Spoons — $13,742.00
This is a set of 24 teaspoons and 12 demitasse spoons. We included them on this list purely because of their uniqueness — these are the only spoons that were not made by Paul Revere. The set of tea and demitasse spoons was crafted by Fabergé in Moscow around 1890. The intricate designs on the bowl of each spoon were praised for their beauty and craftsmanship. The case they come in is also a work of art, with the name “K. Faberge” spelled in Cyrillic on the cover’s inside: К. Фaберже
Silver Tablespoon made by Silversmith & American Patriot Paul Revere, Circa 1790-1800 — $15,000.00
Paul Revere was one of the most famous Revolutionary War heroes, an American patriot and silversmith who played a crucial role in alerting colonial forces of the British assault. He was born on December 21, 1734, in Boston, Massachusetts, to a Huguenot family of silversmiths. His father, Apollos Rivoire, had anglicized his name to Paul Revere upon arriving in the United States.
This is yet another Paul Revere piece that was sold at auction. A silver tablespoon, circa 1790-1800, fetched a whopping $15,000.
Silver Tablespoon made by Silversmith & American Patriot Paul Revere, Circa 1790-1800 — $22,500.00
While this spoon looks basic, with only a 3-letter engraving on the handle, its rich history makes it so valuable. The engraved letters spell “D.M.S.,” referring to Daniel and Mary Sargent, a family well known for their appearance in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The House of the Seven Gables.
Revere, the spoon maker, showcased his craftsmanship with this spoon. Even though it is almost 230 years old, it still looks great and is in perfect condition. It has a beautiful symmetrical shape, and the engraving adds an extra touch of elegance to it. This spoon proves that you don’t need intricate patterns to create a remarkable design.
This spoon is a genuine piece of American history, and it sold for an astonishing $22,500 at auction in 2014.
A Paul Revere, Jr. Silver Table Spoon, Boston, circa 1790 — $25,000.00
Paul Revere spoons are popular among collectors because of their historical value. This particular one was made by Paul Revere, Jr in Boston and is dated around 1790.
You will see this same model of spoon repeatedly appear on this list. The differences in prices come primarily from the scoop’s conditions — the clean the spoon is, the higher its value.
This specific one, for example, has seen better days. There’s a lot of rust and scratches on it, but that didn’t deter the buyer, who paid a whopping $25,000 for it.
Paul Revere, Jr. Silver Table Spoon, Boston, circa 1790 — $32,500.00
When Heritage Auctions held an auction in May 2021, few people expected the Paul Revere, Jr. silver table spoon to fetch such a hefty price. This piece was made in Boston circa 1790 and is marked by the maker: Revere & Kane.
This piece’s exquisite craftsmanship is what makes it so valuable. The spoon has a beautifully patterned handle and a graceful, scalloped bowl. The attention to detail on this spoon is genuinely remarkable and speaks to the skill of its makers. It’s well worth the $32,500 it went for at the auction.
American Patriot Paul Revere Silver Tablespoons, circa 1790-1800 — $83,650.00
This is a collection of six spoons made by Paul Revere. These spoons were produced in Boston between 1790 and 1800 and feature a beautiful scalloped bowl decoration.
The handles are engraved with the letters “D.M.S.,” a monogram of the Sargent family, whose initials are inscribed on the bottom of each spoon.
Likely, these were gifts by Paul Revere for the Sargent family. The spoons have a beautiful patina and the delicate craftsmanship that made Revere’s work so renowned.
FAQs about Antique Spoons
What are the best ways to identify an antique spoon?
Look for hallmarks and stamps on the metal, such as a maker’s mark or a country of origin stamp. Additionally, examine the shape of the bowl and handle, as these can be good indicators of age and craftsmanship. Finally, look for signs of wear and tear, as this can provide insight into the spoon’s age.
How do I clean an antique spoon?
The best way to clean an antique spoon is to use a mild soap and warm water solution, then gently scrub the item with a soft cloth or brush. After cleaning, it is best to polish your spoon with a silver polishing cloth for extra shine and protection. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasives, as these can damage the metal and dull its finish.
What are some of the most valuable antique spoons?
The value of an antique spoon depends on its age, condition, and craftsmanship. Some of the most valuable antique spoons include those crafted by Paul Revere, Jr. in Boston during the 1700s and 1800s. A Paul Revere, Jr. Silver Table Spoon sold for $25,000 at auction in 2014, while another collection of six Paul Revere spoons sold for an astonishing $83,650 in 2021.
Beginners and seasoned collectors alike can appreciate antique spoons’ beauty and historical significance. Whether used in everyday life or collected as a hobby, these pieces offer a unique insight into the past and provide an interesting conversation topic for anyone who encounters them.
As far as makers go, you’ve probably noticed that almost every item we listed was produced by Paul Revere. Revere’s skill in crafting these delicate pieces is truly remarkable and deserves to be appreciated.
And even if you’re new and don’t feel like splurging on a rare Revere-crafted item, there are plenty of less expensive antique spoons for you to start your collection. You can get started with as little as $20-$30.