Spoon

1600-1650 (made)
Spoon thumbnail 1
Spoon thumbnail 2
+2
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Europe 1600-1815, Room 6, The Lisa and Bernard Selz Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
The silver-gilt mount cast, chased and engraved.
Brief Description
Spoon, the bowl of mother-of-pearl, the handle coral (with a silver repair); the mounts gilded silver (unmarked).
Physical Description
Spoon with mother-of-pearl bowl joined to a coral handle with a silver-gilt mount.
Dimensions
  • From tip of bowl to furtherest tip of coral branch handle length: 13.5cm
  • Across widest point of coral fork at finial width: 5.5cm
  • Maximum across spoon bowl width: 4.7cm
  • From tip of spoon bowl to table surface depth: 1.5cm
Gallery Label
  • 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 Unmarked 4451-1858(1995)
Summary
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.
Bibliographic References
  • 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
Collection
Accession Number
4451-1858

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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