Silver Spoons of Britain 1200 – 1710 traces the story of English, Irish and Scottish silver spoons and their makers from their humble beginnings with an acorn knop in 1200 through to the dog nose spoon of 1710.
The story is told by focusing on particular spoons that reveal the features of the different styles made in England, Scotland and Ireland. It is designed for the complete novice as well as anybody with a passion for the subject. The main part of this book is presented in sections based on date and style. It is not possible to display all the types in perfect chronological order as many overlap – not surprisingly as, to take one example, apostle spoons had a life cycle of some 190 years.
Spoons that are very rare and are likely to be in museums only are excluded, as are those for which there is a high probability of foreign manufacture. It should also be noted that every logical rule will be, and is, broken for various reasons. For example, one or two spoons from a set may have been lost and replacement copies produced by a goldsmith to make up the full complement – an acceptable reason for substitutes to be made. When this happens they may be out of period. The Whittington spoons of the Mercers’ Company are specific examples.
The majority of the photography was undertaken by Stephanie Cripps in surroundings ranging from pleasant to underground. Other images have been supplied by museums themselves and one or two are catalogue scans as the spoons were not available. In total there are about nineteen hundred images.
“In researching the spoons I have had the good fortune to handle in excess of twenty-five collections (a number of which are in private hands and will remain anonymous) and I have also had access to a number of spoons through dealers, auction houses and livery companies.
Museum collections have been a valuable source; all of these are credited in the appropriate entries, with the museum number to assist you if you wish to contact the museum to ask for an appointment to handle the spoons. I have found doing that, and hearing the stories to be learned about them, a memorable experience.”
David J E Constable, FSA
“This book itself is ground-breaking, and its comprehensive scope represents an entirely new venture. This is not to say that it aims to replace existing works of scholarship – for example, the three-volume How with its enquiry into apostle spoons and early London hallmarks – but it presents a broad and fully researched account of the spoon and its development, without dry academic content or a plethora of worthy footnotes. The spoons are presented in their territorial and other groups, so that an extensive text is linked to more than 1,600 illustrations, producing the widest corpus ever depicted together. This will be of enormous help to collectors, museums and dealers – indeed to anyone interested in the spoon and its history. For example, if a museum or private collector owns, or wishes to acquire, a Barnstaple decorated spoon, or a shaded roundels example, he or she can turn to a wide group of illustrations relevant to the category in question. Very rare types, such as woodwoses, are presented in the light of recent additions to previously recorded examples.”
Tim Kent FSA