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spoon

  • Object:

    Spoon

  • Place of origin:

    Exeter (marked)

  • Date:

    1758-1759 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, forged and engraved

  • Credit Line:

    Gift of J.H. Fitzhenry

  • Museum number:

    160-1903

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This spoon is a typical example of a type popular across Europe in the eighteenth century until about 1770. The style emerged in England in around 1710, and has become known as 'Hanoverian' because it was popular during the reigns of the first two Hanoverian monarchs (George I and George II), who ruled between 1714-1760. The drop at the heel of this example (where the stem joins the bowl) is characteristic of spoons made after around 1730. In the 1730s, the ‘rat-tail’ on the back of spoon bowls gave way to the ‘drop’ or ‘double drop’, a development which meant that there was an area of plain surface on the back of the spoon bowl that offered space for embellishment. From the 1730s until the 1780s, the backs of spoon bowls, particularly of teaspoons, were embellished with a stamped design. These are referred to as ‘fancy backs’ by modern collectors. The design was added just below, or attached to, the drop or ‘heel’ of the spoon. The earliest motif was a shell, sometimes combined with a scroll pattern, although other designs, such as the ostrich feather crest of the Prince of Wales, are also found. This type of embellishment is rare on larger spoons and on forks.
The decorated bowl back is designed to be appreciated when the spoon is placed on the table with its open bowl down (the opposite of how it would be set on the table today). The same is true of the finial, is and this is why the initials of the original owners have been engraved on what we would now think of as the back of the spoon. This arrangement followed French fashions, which had developed at the end of the seventeenth century.

Physical description

Silver, Hanoverian pattern with single drop and shell back (very worn); two sets of initials engraved on the finial, above the date '1760'

Place of Origin

Exeter (marked)

Date

1758-1759 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Silver, forged and engraved

Marks and inscriptions

Stamped on the back of the stem, L to R from bowl:
Unrecorded maker's mark 'IS' in script, in an oval punch; leopard's head crowned for Exeter assay office; lion passant, mark of sterling standard silver; a castle in a shield-shaped punch, Exeter town mark; letter 'K' in a rectangular punch, date letter for Exeter assay year 1758-59.

Engraved in the same hand on back of finial (the correct side for Hanoverian pattern):
Two sets of initials, each letter separated by a motif of three leaves: 'I L' above 'E A'.
Below these, the date '1760'

Dimensions

Length: 19.5 cm Tip of bowl to tip of finial, Weight: 47.6 g

Descriptive line

Silver, English, Exeter, 1758-59, maker's mark unrecorded

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Jackson's Silver & Gold Marks of England, Scotland & Ireland, ed. Ian Pickford. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club, 1989. Third edition, revised. ISBN 0907462634
Harrison, Miles. Exeter & West Country Silver 1700-1900. The Author, 2014. ISBN 9781908616814

Snodin, Michael. English Silver Spoons. London: Charles Letts, 1974. ISBN 850971101

Materials

Silver

Techniques

Forging (metal forming); Engraving (incising)

Subjects depicted

Date letters; Initials

Categories

Eating; Metalwork; Tableware & cutlery

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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