SPOONS KNOWN BY THEIR HANDLES

The ancient spoons found during excavations of old buildings and amidst the remains of former races in this country are chiefly deposited in museums and national collections. There is a fine display of Roman and Saxon spoons in the Guildhall Museum, all of them found in London ; the mysteries of the underground treasures of the Metropolis will never be fully solved, and even in centuries to come fresh discoveries will be made. When-ever there are extensive excavations for the foundations of new buildings upon the ruins of the London of the past oddments revealing its domestic economy are found, and among these there have been many spoons. The age of these relics which cover a period ranging from Roman days to late medieval can generally be ascertained from the forms of the bowl and of the handle. In mediaeval and late Tudor times the handle was well defined, and until we approach modern times-the age of reproduction and restoration of all ancient forms and styles-makers kept closely to the then prevailing fashion in silver, furniture and artistic ornament. Premier interest undoubtedly centres around the Christening spoon, the purpose of which has already been explained. The older form is that known as the Apostle spoon which in almost any condition bearing the image of one of the apostles is difficult to procure, and to collect a costly hobby. Much interesting matter has been written about those now rare spoons-a full set of " Apostles " and the Master spoon numbering thirteen. But it is chiefly in isolated pieces that these spoons come into the market. Only one or two sets complete with the rare Master spoon are known. Many of the earlier examples dated from the reign of Henry VII, some being hall-marked in that of Henry VIII. No doubt in many instances several of these spoons, surmounted with the figures of favourite saints were given as christening gifts, in other cases only isolated examples were presented. The gift of the Apostle spoon was chiefly in pre-Reformation times when belief in the services of the patron saint was strong and the favourite or family saint was often supplemented by the wealthy by the addition of other patrons, and as the relics still in existence show there were some donors who presented " the whole lot," but whether the full set, including " Judas " with his emblematic " bag " was ever given to a babe at his christening is not clear. The collector, fortunate enough to possess one or more of these rare spoons is, of course, anxious to discover the Apostles represented. It is not easy to distinguish any marked difference in the figures themselves, but as each Apostle is known by his attribute, the recognition is made clear. Any of the Apostle spoons can be known by the attributes mentioned in the following list : The Master-Cross and orb, usually having the right hand held up in the act of blessing. St. Peter-A sword or a key. St. Andrew-A cross. St. James the Greater-A pilgrim's staff. St. John-The cup of sorrow. St. Phillip-A staff. St. Bartholomew-A knife. St. Thomas-A spar. St. Matthew-An axe or halbert. St. James the Less-A fuller's bat. St. Jude-A square. St. Simon Zelotes-A long saw. Judas-A bag of money. St. Paul with a sword as his emblem is occasionally introduced as a substitute for Judas. It is useful to note that most of the Apostle spoons are hall-marked, the mark being found on the stem of the bowl. There are often engraved or impressed initials, and sometimes legends are added. As was customary at that period the initials and the date are generally " pricked " on the bowl. As it has been pointed out, it

is rare to meet with any considerable number of Apostle spoons belonging to one set. The bowls of Apostle and other spoons were hammered and the stem forged on to the bowl ; the figures of the Apostles were cast, being afterwards soldered on to the stem. The mark was punched inside the bowl and this was in some instances supplemented by an additional mark on the handles. Shakespeare has many references to spoons, especially Apostle spoons. These have frequently been quoted by writers on the subject. One of these in " Henry VIII," referring to the King asking Cranmer to be godfather to a " fair young maid that yet wants baptism," being a favourite. Cranmer raises objections, to which King Henry replies, suggesting that the Archbishop grudged the customary gift, saying : " Come, come, my lord ; you'd spare your spoons ! " The gift of plate was costly then, it is more expensive to-day, and the now rare Apostle spoons, with their enhanced curio value, are gifts which can only be indulged in by the wealthy !