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

Teaspoon

1710-1730 (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.

Design & Designing
This spoon shows the Hanoverian pattern, which was popular between 1710 and 1760. Until 1760, the end of the stem would curve upwards, in the same direction as the bowl, and spoons were usually laid on the table face down. From 1760 onwards, the stem curves downwards and the spoon is laid face up on the table.

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. Full sets of matching spoons from before the 1740s very rarely survive.

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, forged and engraved
Brief Description
Silver, (no marks), England, early 18th century.
Physical Description
Tea spoon of silver, rat tail pattern, the handle engraved with the initials IV. Ridged handle, turned up at the end, oval bowl (refashioned).
Dimensions
  • Width: 2.4cm
  • Length: 12cm
Dimensions checked: Measured; 11/11/1999 by RK
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Engraved with the initials 'IV' on the handle (Unidentified)
  • No marks
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
Subject depicted
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.

Design & Designing
This spoon shows the Hanoverian pattern, which was popular between 1710 and 1760. Until 1760, the end of the stem would curve upwards, in the same direction as the bowl, and spoons were usually laid on the table face down. From 1760 onwards, the stem curves downwards and the spoon is laid face up on the table.

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. Full sets of matching spoons from before the 1740s very rarely survive.

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
114-1903

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdMarch 27, 2003
Record URL