Teaspoon thumbnail 1
Teaspoon thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 52b

Teaspoon

ca. 1750 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
Tea was imported into Britain from the early 17th century, but became fashionable only after the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. Catherine of Braganza, Charles's Portuguese wife, had a particular passion for tea and did much to popularise it. Tea was originally drunk in the Chinese manner, weak and without milk, but by the early 18th century sugar and milk were added and small spoons became necessary.

Trading
Spoons were made by specialist goldsmiths, but often supplied as part of a tea service. For example, a set made by Paul de Lamerie (1688-1751) in 1735 includes 12 tea spoons, a pair of sugar nippers, a strainer spoon, three canisters for black tea, green tea and sugar, and a cream jug. Very few full sets of matching spoons made before the 1740s are known today.

Social Usage
Tea spoons were part of the ritual of the tea table. They could be used to signal to the hostess when the guest had drunk his fill. In 1782 the Prince of Broglie reported that 'I partook of the most excellent tea and I should be even now still drinking it, I believe, if the Ambassador had not charitably notified me at the twelfth cup that I must put my spoon across it when I wished to finish with this sort of warm water'.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Silver
Brief Description
Cutlery and flatware
Dimensions
  • Width: 2.4cm
  • Length: 12cm
Dimensions checked: Measured; 11/11/1999 by RK
Gallery Label
British Galleries: TEASPOONS
Spoon-making was a specialist branch of goldsmithing. The design of spoons for specific uses, such as these silver teaspoons, began in the late 17th century. Until about 1750, tables were laid with the reverse of the spoon uppermost, so that decoration on the back would be prominently displayed.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by J. H. Fitzhenry
Object history
Possibly made in London by John Gale (active from 1721)
Summary
Object Type
Tea was imported into Britain from the early 17th century, but became fashionable only after the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. Catherine of Braganza, Charles's Portuguese wife, had a particular passion for tea and did much to popularise it. Tea was originally drunk in the Chinese manner, weak and without milk, but by the early 18th century sugar and milk were added and small spoons became necessary.

Trading
Spoons were made by specialist goldsmiths, but often supplied as part of a tea service. For example, a set made by Paul de Lamerie (1688-1751) in 1735 includes 12 tea spoons, a pair of sugar nippers, a strainer spoon, three canisters for black tea, green tea and sugar, and a cream jug. Very few full sets of matching spoons made before the 1740s are known today.

Social Usage
Tea spoons were part of the ritual of the tea table. They could be used to signal to the hostess when the guest had drunk his fill. In 1782 the Prince of Broglie reported that 'I partook of the most excellent tea and I should be even now still drinking it, I believe, if the Ambassador had not charitably notified me at the twelfth cup that I must put my spoon across it when I wished to finish with this sort of warm water'.
Collection
Accession Number
1118-1902

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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