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  • Place of origin:

    London (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1770 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sallam, Robert (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraved silver

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Capt. Francis Buckley

  • 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. After 1740, we start to see sets of matching tea-spoons.

Design & Designing
Spoons in the 18th century were generally placed on the table with the bowl facing down. The back of the stem or 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. This spoon is marked with a squirrel holding a nut surrounded by oak branches. Oak leaves or acorns sometimes have political associations, reminders of the Boscobel Oak in which Charles II hid from Cromwell's troopers in 1651, but this spoon could equally well just show a countryside motif.

Materials & Making
The decoration is produced by die-stamping the design onto the back of the spoon. Spoons with 'fancy backs' or 'picture backs' would have slightly thicker bowls to prevent the decoration showing on the bowl of the spoon.

Place of Origin

London (possibly, made)


ca. 1770 (made)


Sallam, Robert (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Engraved silver

Marks and inscriptions

Cast on the back of the bowl with a squirrel and oak branches; the handle engraved with the initials 'P.T.M.'


Width: 2.5 cm, Length: 12.1 cm

Object history note

Possibly made in London by Robert Sallam (working from 1749)

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]


Metalwork; Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares


Metalwork Collection

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