SPOONS OF ANTIQUITY

It is evident that spoons were at first used entirely for liquids, their convenience, however, made them handy implements for many dry products. The early cooking vessels were large and ponderous, and meat was chiefly boiled. Large meat forks and equally massive spoons were used in the pot, although spoons of much smaller size and lighter weights were included in the requirements of the kitchen and upon the table for feeding purposes. Various metals and compound metals have served the housewife ; the earlier cooking spoons were of wood but few specimens are found in the debris of old towns and settlements ; they have perished, although numerous examples of iron, brass, latten, pewter and silver spoons are met with in collections representing the household appointments of former days. Spoons have been used since the early days of civilisation in Eastern and Western countries, and crude examples showing the same idea of form occurring to peoples in all localities and at all ages are met with in use among the few existing tribes of savages and aboriginal man. Evidently the idea of their manufacture has been suggested by Nature under differing conditions. There has been little change in the first principle of the spoon and its use -it is still a bowl of conveniently small size with a handle attached. Yet there have been fashions in spoons and slight alterations in form to meet the requirements of polite society as ideas have altered. The bowl has at times been made nearly round, at others oval or elongated ; now and then new uses have been found for the spoon and fresh forms devised, at times the bowl has been perforated and adapted to other purposes than liquids. Perhaps the greatest variation has been in the handle and its manner of attachment to the bowl ; there have been distinctive characteristics too, in the manner of engraving and in the ornament-the style of ornament and the fashion of the initials or other engraving following contemporary decoration. The spoon is generally associated with domestic plate by the " home connoisseur " ; it has, however, played an important part in many functions and historic events ; indeed, many ancient spoons in museums and collections show traces of having been made for some specific purpose or of having been owned by someone for his or her own personal use.

Fig 46 - SILVER SPICE BOX HALL MARKED LONDON 1728-97n

FIG 47.--COLLECTION OF, SILVER SPOONS. (In the Victoria and Albert Museum.)

The antiquity of the Coronation Spoon in our national regalia is sometimes disputed, if, however, it is not the actual spoon used in Saxon days at the coronation of the sovereign it is doubtless an exact replica of that ancient spoon which will occur to all as an example of a spoon made for a specific purpose, and although only required on occasions widely apart, kept for that purpose only. There are many " odd " spoons in the family plate chest ; some of these have been presentation spoons given to commemorate special occasions ; among them prominence is given to the Christening spoon, although that name is perhaps a misnomer in that such spoons were intended to be used in later years by the child whose christening they commemorated. As customs change and new practices become general, new spoons have been fashioned, as when snuff-taking came into general practice a small spoon which could be carried in the snuff-box was designed. Undoubtedly the world would be placed in great difficulty if the use of a spoon was prohibited or its manufacture restricted. There is an interesting old couplet referring to the spoon always present in some form or other, which runs It (the spoon) is with the King at his crowning ; with the babe at his christening ; with the corpse at his burying ; and with the rest of the world at its snuff-taking."