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Dessert spoon

  • Place of origin:

    Sheffield (possibly, made)
    Birmingham (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Sheffield plate (copper plated with silver)

  • Credit Line:

    Given by G. L. Giachin

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery, case 1

Object Type
Spoons of different shapes and sizes for specific activities like eating dessert or soup or for taking snuff developed in the 17th century. The dessert spoon was not commonly used until the early 18th century, when matching sets of cutlery became standard, with table spoons used for soup and smaller spoons for eating the fresh and candied fruits of dessert.

Design & Designing
This spoon is in the Old English pattern, one of the most popular styles for cutlery services. It evolved in the mid-18th century from earlier spoon designs and is still produced today. The first design used for matching services of cutlery was the Dog Nose, but the wavy end was uncomfortable to hold and the form was soon superseded by the simpler Hanoverian and Old English patterns. The most marked difference between these two patterns is the down-turned handle. This reflects the change to the laying of cutlery on the table. The British broke away from the Continental tradition of laying spoons and forks with the bowl and tines face down on the table. Instead, spoons were laid with the open bowl uppermost. Crests and marks of ownership were now placed, as here, on the front of the spoon handle.

Material & Technique
A spoon of Sheffield plate is a very rare survival. The material wore badly at the edges and the food could be tainted by the copper beneath. Although cheaper than silver, these spoons were an expensive alternative to pewter. The cost and difficulty of manufacture, as well as the poor durability, explains why so few spoons of this sort survive.

Place of Origin

Sheffield (possibly, made)
Birmingham (possibly, made)


ca. 1800 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Sheffield plate (copper plated with silver)

Marks and inscriptions

Engraved with the owner's initials 'J.L.'


Height: 2 cm, Width: 4.3 cm, Depth: 22.3 cm

Object history note

Made in Sheffield or Birmingham

Descriptive line


Labels and date

British Galleries:
Although it was difficult to make large spoons out of Sheffield plate, they were still cheaper than those made of silver. In this example a die-stamped bowl has been soldered to a separately made stem. Like most surviving plated spoons, it has not worn well which explains why they were not popular. [27/03/2003]


Metalwork; Tableware & cutlery; Eating; British Galleries


Metalwork Collection

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