- Place of origin:
- Materials and Techniques:
- Credit Line:
Given by Capt. Francis Buckley
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
British Galleries, Room 52b, case 1
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.
Spoons were made by specialist goldsmiths, but often supplied as part of a tea equipage, or service. 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.
Design & Designing
Spoons in the 18th century were generally placed on the table with the face downwards. The back of the stem or of the bowl could therefore be used for decoration. The first examples, in the 1730s, were decorated with a shell. After the mid-18th century, motifs such as flowers, farmyard scenes, animals and crowns began to be seen. The back of this spoon is decorated with a sheaf of wheat and the word 'PLENTY'. This may be a symbol of peace and prosperity. Decorated spoons such as this are often called 'picture-back' or 'fancy-back'.
Place of Origin
Materials and Techniques
Marks and inscriptions
Cast on the back of the bowl with a wheat sheaf and 'PLENTY'; the handle engraved 'HW' and 'WH'
Width: 2.5 cm, Length: 11.3 cm
Object history note
Made in London
Labels and date
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]
Metalwork; Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares