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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1710-1730 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, forged and engraved

  • Credit Line:

    Given by J. H. Fitzhenry

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 52b, case 1

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.

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'.

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).

Place of Origin

England (made)


1710-1730 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silver, forged and engraved

Marks and inscriptions

Engraved with the initials 'IV' on the handle

No marks


Width: 2.4 cm, Length: 12 cm

Descriptive line

Silver, (no marks), England, early 18th century.

Labels and date

British Galleries:

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]




Forging; Engraving (incising)

Subjects depicted

Initials (abbreviations)


Metalwork; Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares


Metalwork Collection

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