Is it possible to date souvenir spoons?

alisandeJanuary 18, 2008

My paternal grandmother was an opera singer who collected spoons in her travels around the U.S. Some of them are dated in the 1890s (for instance, Actors Fund Fair, 1892), and I think she acquired the majority of them in that decade. But some probably came later. Several of them aren't souvenir spoons, actually. I'm in the process of cleaning them (a once-a-year event), and I just noticed one of them is a Tiffany pattern.

I'm definitely NOT selling any of them, but when my granddaughter inherits them someday I'd like her to know a little more specifically what she has.

I'm going to photograph them individually, and I'll be glad to post them on the forum if anyone would like to see. I've always been fascinated with them.

Thanks,

Susan

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lindac

I'd love to look!
Souvenir spoons were frequently in a pattern that was also used for flatware...those are easy. Others have the date engraved...those are easier...but some where in a special mold..pattern...for that particular spoon.
I would bet there is a book out there somewhere cataloging all known patterns and dating them and givine approximate value.
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 11:15AM
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alisande

A bookgood idea! I found this one, and maybe I'll order a used copy.

Linda, you are all the encouragement I need to post the pictures. :-)

Meanwhile, I'm struggling with the polishing process . . . not just my grandmother's spoons, but all the pieces I posted earlier. I'm using Wright's Silver Cream, and I rub and I rub with the sponge, but still some black areas remain. They are perfectly smooth, and I don't think any pitting is going on. But I don't seem to be able to get anything perfectly polished. I'm sure it doesn't help that my fingers are painful this time of year from skin damage caused by Raynaud's syndrome.

If you have any polishing tips, please share. Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 12:25PM
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lindac

Wash your silver before you polish....polish at the sink with the warm water running a trickle and make sure the sponge is damp.
For stubborn spots, put some of the silver polish right on your finger and rub at the spot...
Ir the spot is still there....shhhh! Don't tell anyone I said this....take a little bit of Barkeepers Friend on your finger...and rub just the spot. Be careful or you can dull the spoon as Barkeeper's is a little abrasive...but it will remove most spots.
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 2:10PM
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antiquesilver

On really heavily tarnished pieces, I use a little simichrome paste on the flat areas rubbed in with my finger. A paper towel works just as well without the stained hands, but somehow I always go back to rubbing with thumb & forefinger.

The link below sells a lot of silver books. I know there are several out there but I don't own any.

Can't wait to see what goodies you have, Alisande.
Hester

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 2:51PM
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alisande

Thanks for the link. Where does one find simichrome paste?

I'll start posting some of my grandmother's spoons. I'm happy to share them!

I just read the following on an antiques website: For the Actors Fund 1892 Fair, Gorham made the remarkable cream ladle showing five actresses on obverse handle and five actors on reverse.

This is the ladle!!

On this next spoon, "Sextette 1890 - 1891" is engraved in the bowl, and engraved on the underside are the names of six men: Fred Oakland, Jos. Natus, Jos. Garland, Fred Reynolds, F. Walsh, and ______ C. Davis. Hard to read! Looks like Inoc. It's also by Gorham. Maybe if I photograph the mystery name with my closeup lens you'll be able to decipher it. Also, I probably should have taken a picture of the male actors on the reverse of the ladle. How chauvanistic of me!

This next one is silverplate. It commemorates the opening of the new Woodlark Building, home of Woodard & Clarke in Portland, Oregon. I learned that the building was built in 1912.

This a Tiffany pattern with some sort of flower. It looks like it might be a chrysanthemum. What do you think? Pat. 1880 M is marked on the back.

Another Tiffany pattern. Such a nice weight to the Tiffany pieces. Ditto the Gorhams.

And finally (for this post), this was my favorite when I was a child, perhaps because I spent so much time at the seashore. It's engraved "F. W. Dale." I have no idea who he is. R. Wallace & Sons is the maker.

Here's a question for you: I started photographing the silver on that chartreuse fabric for no particular reason, and then stayed with it out of laziness. Do you think it's okay, or should I look for something else when taking the eBay pictures?

As they say on eBay, thanks for looking! :-)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 9:20PM
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alisande

Linda, I just read your post. (It landed in my spam folder.) Thanks for the tip. Your secret is safe with me. :-)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 9:23PM
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lindac

AAAH!...I love it all!
Who are the actresses on that Gorham ladle?
Do you know the EAPG pattern Actress? A piece or two of that would go very well with yout ladle.
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 11:29PM
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antiquesilver

Wow, what beautiful silver. I suspect the ladle was made specifically for the named event; the Sextette spoon looks like it's from one of the 'numbered' series that Gorham made in the 1880's & used in oyster forks, spoon sets & souvenir blanks. Sometimes there is a stamped # on the back.

Is there a trade name or mfgr on the SP spoon?

The Tiffany spoons are 'Chrysanthemum' & 'Olympian' which was patented in 1878 & is a multi-motif pattern. Both are highly desireable & Chrysanthemum is still made. On ebay, you need to show a good closeup of the 'M' on the back; the font is an indicator of the manufacturing era & Tiffany affectionados tend to disagree on the styles so let them judge for themselves.

The Wallace spoon isn't a pattern that I recognize but they made a lot of gift sets, etc as well as souvenir spoons. That free form, asymetrical style was popular around 1885 & you won't have any problem selling it.

To find simichrome, your best best is an antique mall. Seems like there is always one dealer who carries it.

I think your photos look great, one reason being that the silver isn't so shiney that it reflects color - or anything else! That, coupled with the medium tone of the fabric, made for excellent photos. Silver is so hard to photograph & you've done an outstanding job. I'm seriously considering your camera recommendation.

Keep the silver coming!
Hester

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 12:35AM
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alisande

Thanks for your comments! I'm not familiar with the Actress pattern. I won't be adding to my grandmother's spoon collection, nor selling any of it. But our discussions here have certainly piqued my interest in collecting silver, and I might be tempted to begin a modest collction of my own. I love the hunt, but at this point in my life can't afford to spend very much. (Thank heavens I'm inherently frugal and love a bargain!)

I'm sure my grandmother went to the Fair. They lived in NYC. In my research attempts, I ran across a collection of 1892 letters from an actress to her children. I didn't see the name of the actress, although I'm sure if I'd spent more time on the website I would have learned it. She wrote a lot about the fair and her involvement in it, and how exhausting the preparations were. Her letters were lively and fun, and I was completely caught up in them, relating as a mother who loves to write letters.

The actresses, starting at the top, are Cushman (she looks rather forbidding, doesn't she?), Anderson, Morris, Ethel (I assumed Barrymore, but she was born in 1879) and Lotta (I'm thinking Lotta Crabtree, 1847-1924). The actors are Forrest, Booth, Davenport, Jefferson, and Florence.

The SP spoon is marked Stratford Silver Co. AXL.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 9:58AM
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alisande

I meant to add that the Actors Fund Fair, May 2nd to 7th, 1892, is incorporated into the design on the reverse side of the ladle bowl.

Here are some more.

Rocky Mountains. It's marked Colorado Silver.

This is from Paye & Baker. It looks like a poppy to me.

This souvenir of the Casa Grande Ruins in Arizona was made by Gorham. It's marked Cook & Bell Prescott & Phoenix, Arizona. I know that looks weird, but that's what it says.

This one is engraved "Boston." I can't decipher the mark, can you?

This rather light spoon is marked Sterling, and also 925/1000.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 10:10AM
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alisande

And two I forgot this morning:

Toledo, Ohio, sterling by Wendell Manufacturing Company, who ceased flatware production in 1900.

And a stag's head with marks I can't figure out.

Just for fun, one of the actors. This is the second largest on the spoon. Remarkable detail, yes?

This "Mt. of Holy Cross" spoon has the mark of the Howard Silver Co. and a patent date of July 14 '01.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 2:49PM
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alisande

Here's the name I couldn't figure out (one of the members of the Sextette):

I took a picture of the name Fred just to give you a point of reference. Any idea?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 10:08PM
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antiquesilver

The Stratford SP spoon is 'Rosedale', 1913.

The Paye & Baker sugar spoon is called, guess what, 'Poppy'. They made a lot of souvenir & novelty items as well as serving pieces in several patterns, Poppy being one of them. I have a copy of a catalog from Jan '08 & sugar spoons were $18/dozen (I'm assuming this was the price the jeweler paid as not many people would require a dozen sugar spoons.LOL!) I have a master butter knife that is an outstanding piece, but I've seen olive spoons that had gorgeous detail but were very light weight. Pictured in the catalog is a set made of your sugar spoon & my butter knife for $3.50! I think it's worth a little more than that now!

The spiral spoon, engraved 'Boston', is by Whiting around 1880, & commonly called 'Twist' or 'Square Twist' depending on the spiral design; obviously yours is 'Twist'. There is also an 'Oval Twist'. I don't know if they were made in full lines, but there are a lot of serving pieces & gift sets out there to match yours.

The one marked Colorado Silver is probably not sterling unless it is marked as such.

The cactus spoon may have a stamp belonging to a jeweler that had them made up for sale or did the engraving. I don't know where souvenir spoons were usually sold. Maybe it was a company that gave tours of the ruins?

The light weight spoon marked sterling & 925 is a citrus spoon.

Sorry I can't be of help on the others, but you're right about the awesome detail. Can you imagine a company able to afford someone custom carving a die for any organization that had a whim to put their name/event on a spoon? Talk about labor intensive & cheap labor to boot!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 10:39PM
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antiquesilver

Could the name be 'Jno.' for John or Jonathan? I've seen this abbreviation in old legal documents, etc.
Hester

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 10:44PM
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lindac

I'll bet the Colorado Spoon is sterling or better....and made from silver from the Colorado mines.
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 11:36PM
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amerspooncollector

Yes...it is possibleto date souvenir spoons. Many of them are patented and we have the patent dates. For details and information see the website of American Spoon Collectors (who also publish a monthly newsletter). GO to
http://www.campanian.org
E-mail address = campania@hvc.rr.com

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 6:01PM
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lcaproni

I was very excited to see the pics of the Casa Grande Ruins souvenir spoon. I am a PhD student whose research focuses on Casa Grande Ruins and the history of tourism to and at the site. I came across an ad in an 1891 Arizona Republican newspaper article and found this exact spoon advertised. The b&w image in the ad, however, was poorly scanned and not clear. So this is the first image I have found that confirms the existence of that souvenir spoon. Thanks for posting!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 4:54PM
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alisande

That is very cool!! Connections like this are a big part of why I love the Internet. So glad I could help.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 6:10PM
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sunnyca_gw

Very nice collection! If you want to get them a little cleaner especially in the lines you can get a "soft" toothbrush & wet it & dip it in & get some of the Wright's silver cream & brush the areas where there is a lot of busy work. It should come cleaner. Oh, the "actress" on the back of the spoon, I think it is one of the Queens,can't remember which one. Maybe an actress playing her but I've seen her before, she is a historical figure Marie Antoinette,Mary Queen of Scots ???

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 1:49AM
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alisande

She might look like a queen, but I believe they're all actresses, Sunny. And actors on the reverse side. I looked them up. (I assume you're talking about the Actors Fund spoon.)

Hard to believe this thread was first posted more than two years ago!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 9:02AM
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lindac

The face wasn't on the back of the actress spoon but on the Olympian spoon....likely Ceres.
This thread is so educational because of your wonderful pictures...and spoons too....and Hesther's identification. It should never be allowed off the first page!
I noticed when reading this again that Lotte Crabtree is on the actress ladle. I have a glass dish of the period...and of the Actress pattern. It has the image of Lotte in the dish and an inscription around the edge..."Love's Request is Pickles"....
Strange? You bet....but I love it!
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 10:21AM
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lazy_gardens

The "Colorado Silver" is not sterling, it's an alloy like "Alpaca Silver"

The "Sextette" may have been minstrels - Look up the names individually. Fred Oakland was a famous minstrel

The Casa Grande one: The firm was an early AZ jewelry company.

And the seashore one ... there is a very elaborate flatware set that uses all different shells and sea life.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 9:05PM
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lindac

What makes you say the Colorado spoon is alpaca?
Alpaca is nickel silver, copper,zinc and nickle. It would be very strange indeed for a souvenir spoon from the mining country of Colorado would be made from anything other than the product of those mines. Alpaca is also known as nickle silver or occasionally German silver and not used for "nice things" things with lots of detail
The Casa Grande spoon was made by Gorham but likely sold by the Cook and Bell Prescott jewelry store.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 9:45PM
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lazy_gardens

lindac
If it was sterling silver, they would say so.

Nevada was a big silver mining state, but "Nevada Silver" is just another name for "German Silver" alloy. And I have seen "nice things" made of German Silver, Alpaca Silver, Peru Silver, Afghan Silver, Brazil Silver and a bunch of other non-silver metals.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 2:44PM
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lindac

All sterling doesn't say sterling....but if it does you know it is.
I have a brooch with an agate and the setting is studded with gold nuggets. It doesn't have a karat mark...just says Alaska Gold.
If it says Sterling or 925, you know it is....but if it says nothing you don't know. Lots of artisan jewelers don't mark...lots of Navajo and Hopi jewelry isn't marked with the silver content. The only way you "know" is either by the reputation of the silversmith, or by having it tested.
I have around my neck right now an Indian piece...maybe Hopi but more likely Navajo. It says only DL on the back but I will bet lots of money it's 925 parts silver.
And items labeled Nevada silver were made by a British maker, for Brits who were excited over the silver in the Wild West.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 4:30PM
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nanny98

What a really "neat" thread. Just facinating. I have a very few old spoons like these...makes me want to get them out from "somewhere" and compare notes. I agree that this thread is a keeper! Thanks for sharing and educating me. Nanny

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 8:34PM
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sunnyca_gw

Linda, you are probably right about Ceres. I was probably watching "Jeopardy" & saw it on there. They had "Queens" on 1 night so thought she was 1 of them. I am sometimes doing something else while listening to Jeopardy,shouldn't do that.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 12:54AM
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laurieg_gardener

Hello all. Here is some information on actress spoons. It's from the Old and Sold website. Google the words "old sold article 872" to find the link to this article. It's an interesting read and some of you may find information on your spoons there as well.

"One of Miss Garrett's old Gorham catalog pages shows a set of fifteen actress spoons made in a limited edition of 250 sets, for the 1892 Actor's Fund Fair held in New York City. Each spoon is tipped by a dimentional bust of an actress and carries a facsimile of her autograph. The signatures on the old catalog page cannot be read, and Gorham now has no record of the fifteen actresses portrayed. Of this set of spoons, Miss Garrett has six which show these signatures; Sarah Bernhardt, Rosina Vokes, Mary Anderson, Annie Russell, Fanny Davenport, and one which is illegible. These limited edition spoons were sold at the Actors Fund Fair, to raise money for indigent theatrical performers. For the same 1892 Fair, Gorham made the remarkable cream ladle showing five actresses on obverse handle and five actors on reverse."

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 10:16AM
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alisande

Thanks, Laurie. I think that's where I found the information on my cream ladle.

Using a super-macro conversion lens, I photographed two of the portraits, one male and one female, enlarged them to 8x10, and put them in museum frames. They've attracted a lot of attention at my photography shows this summer. I'm planning to take a snapshot of them at their present location, and when I do I'll post it here.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 11:06AM
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laurieg_gardener

That's an excellent idea. I look forward to seeing them!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 12:33PM
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sheilajoyce_gw

Would that name be Enoc?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 12:01AM
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alisande

What name are you referring to, Sheilajoyce? I've kind of lost track of all the parts of this thread.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 7:05AM
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