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  • Place of origin:

    The Netherlands (possibly, made)
    Germany (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1600-1650 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    The silver-gilt mount cast, chased and engraved.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 6, The Lisa and Bernard Selz Gallery, case CA11

This spoon may have been part of a set, and was probably valued as much for its materials as its function. Coral, fished from the coastal waters of Sicily, was prized since the Middle Ages for its magical power to ward off evil, and mother-of-pearl was an equally exotic material. The dolphin-like creature that joins the bowl to the handle recalls similar beasts on early-seventeenth-century goldsmiths' work from the Netherlands. Two spoons with mother-of-pearl bowls are recorded in the 1694 inventory of the treasure collection at Rosenborg Castle (Denmark); a third, with a coral handle and gold bowl, was displayed in a case with other gold objects.

Physical description

Spoon with mother-of-pearl bowl joined to a coral handle with a silver-gilt mount.

Place of Origin

The Netherlands (possibly, made)
Germany (possibly, made)


1600-1650 (made)



Materials and Techniques

The silver-gilt mount cast, chased and engraved.


Length: 13.5 cm From tip of bowl to furtherest tip of coral branch handle, Width: 5.5 cm Across widest point of coral fork at finial, Width: 4.7 cm Maximum across spoon bowl, Depth: 1.5 cm From tip of spoon bowl to table surface

Descriptive line

Spoon, the bowl of mother-of-pearl, the handle coral (with a silver repair); the mounts gilded silver (unmarked).

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Van Trigt, Jan. Cutlery, from Gothic to Art Deco. The J. Hollander Collection. Published on the occasion of the exhibition 'Bestekken en eetcultuur' at the Design Museum Ghent,11 July - 28 September 2003. Antwerp: Pandora, 2003. ISBN 9053252231
Tait, Hugh. Catalogue of the Waddesdon Bequest in the British Museum. 3 vols. (London: British Museum Press, 1986-1991), vol. III: The 'Curiosities' (1991).
Saul, Mary. Shells. An Illustrated Guide to a Timeless and Fascinating World. London: Hamlyn, 1974. ISBN 0600380483
Tescione, Giovanni. Il corallo nella storia e nell'arte. Napoli: Montanino, 1965.
Hein, Jørgen. The Treasure Collection at Rosenborg Castle: The Inventories of 1696 and 1718. Royal Heritage and Collecting in Denmark-Norway 1500-1900. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2009). ISBN 8789542444

Labels and date

SPOON. Mother-of-pearl bowl, the handle of red coral sprigs, silver gilt mount, chased with leaves. German or Flemish. 17th centy. L. 5¼ in. Bought, 12s 6d. 4451-'58. [1858]
4. Spoon
Silver-gilt, mother-of-pearl, coral
Probably Germany, 17th century
4451-1858 [1995]


Coral; Mother-of-pearl; Silver-gilt


Casting; Engraving; Chasing




Metalwork Collection

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