Antique & Collectible Souvenir Spoons - History & Information on Collecting.

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Collecting Antique Souvenir Spoons

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You are about to embark on the whirlwind journey of antique and collectible souvenir spoons.  

For, every traveler is aware of the multitude of souvenir spoons that amass the tourist shops in every town and city, depicting buildings, birds, trees, flags, people, and any other symbol that represents that special visit, and will spark the memory of a treasured time and place. Old souvenir spoons continue to be collectible, as well as the relatively cheap souvenir spoons of recent years, but although inexpensive, these spoons are especially rich in memory and close to the heart of many spoon collectors. And, with each old souvenir spoon comes a story, not only of its maker, but where it has been, who it has known, and what it represents. The travels of the spoon become a part of the collector, as if reminiscing with an old friend. And, it is from these things that we are romanced by the beauty and mystery of an old souvenir spoon!

The birthplace of antique souvenir spoons was in Europe in the mid 1800's. These European souvenir spoons which depicted landmarks, cities, names, and other odd and unusual characters were acquired by wealthy Americans on their travels abroad. There is debate among spoon collectors as to the particular American spoon that was first in the category of souvenir spoons, some claiming Daniel Low's "Witch" spoon, others claiming Galt & Bros. George Washington spoon, created in celebration of the 100 year anniversary of Washington's presidency. The truth is ... historical documents show that the George Washington souvenir spoon was patented in 1889, a year prior to the "Witch" spoons conception. However, it is widely accepted that Low's "Witch" spoon was, not only instrumental, but was THE spoon to spark the souvenir spoon collecting craze in America.

In a historical document listing Representative Men of Salem, Points of Interest, the following was recorded in describing Daniel Low, "One of Mr. Low's specialties is the ' Witch Spoon,' a sterling silver souvenir spoon, which is so artistically designed and finely finished as to be remarkable even in these days, when souvenir spoons are " all the rage " and are made in an almost endless variety of styles." His "Witch" spoon, registered on January 13, 1891, was marketed in an advertisement in the Saturday Evening Post that resulted in orders totaling more than $3,000 from all over the world.  

Text from the original "Witch Spoon" Advertisement reads:

The 'Witch' Spoon by Daniel Low, from the old Witch Town of Salem

An interesting mania, yet one having its useful side as well, is the collecting of old silver spoons. The idea is to get them from as many different localities as possible, but particularly from places having some special historical interest.

One of the presents received by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes on his eighty first birthday was a gold-lined silver spoon, the handle of which bears a witch on a broomstick, the word Salem, and the emblematic witch pins crossed.

It came from a lady as a token of Dr. Holmes’s latest poem, The Broomstick Train."

The pattern is made only in sterling silver and of heavy weight. The design on the handle is raised.

Coffee Spoon. .......................................... $1.25
Coffee Spoon, gold bowl. ........................ $1.50
Tea Spoon. ................................................ $2.00
Tea Spoon, gold bowl. .............................. $2.50
Orange Spoon No. 1. ................................ $2.25
Orange Spoon No. 1, gold bowl. .............. $2.50
Dessert Spoons, Sugar Spoons, Almond Scoops, &c.

We send them on receipt of price, prepaid to any address, subject
to return if they prove in any way unsatisfactory or disappointing.

DANIEL LOW, Silversmith,
First Church Building. SALEM, Mass.

By June of 1891, literally hundreds of different souvenir spoon collectibles had been patented with a multitude of patterns produced. And, by 1893, the Chicago World Fair, commemorating the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America, introduced twenty-seven million people to the world of souvenir spoons with what is considered to be the largest exhibition of a variety of souvenir spoons in history. As the Industrial Revolution emerged at the turn of the twentieth century, the ability to produce large capacities at once greatly expanded souvenir spoon production, and interest in spoon collecting exploded even more. The heightened interest in souvenir spoons continued until World War I when interest began to wane, and by the end of the war, little interest remained, but has continued to be a collectors item since the middle of the twentieth century.

Today, although not the popular collecting avenue it once was, antique souvenir spoon collecting has grown at such a rate that souvenir spoon collectors, referring to themselves as Spooners, not only have their own collector's clubs, they also now distribute a monthly newsletter completely devoted to anything and everything related to souvenir spoons. Many collectible souvenir spoon books have been published, but it is impossible to give a complete account of all the souvenir spoons produced. 

Antique souvenir spoons are more desirable for their beauty, historical significance, and their story, than they are for their value.  Silver plated souvenir spoons, as well as silver, can be found at amazingly inexpensive prices. Recently, with the increase in the market price of gold and silver, the silver and gold souvenir spoons are higher in value than they were just a few years ago.

Famous maker souvenir spoons from firms like Tiffany and Gorham, and spoons that were produced in limited number will demand higher prices. Many antique souvenir spoons were custom made to commemorate a special occasion or anniversary, and these are sought after by many spoon collectors (Spooners) because of their one-of-a-kind rarity, and generally, superior craftsmanship. Some collectors relish in unveiling a spoon's story by tracing its history of ownership.

Antique spoons of the early exhibitions are highly collectible. Of course, the commemorative souvenir spoons from the Columbus Exposition are highly sought after, and the sterling silver Spokane spoon by Mayer Brothers to about 1910 is also popular among collectors. Since spoon collectors tend to limit their collecting to specific areas of design or style, any particular souvenir spoon may be considered valuable to an individual collector who has been searching for a particular spoon to add to his collection. For many, the value of antique souvenir spoons is determined more by its significance to the collector than anything else.

Here are some of the American makers of souvenir spoons:
Alvin Mfg. Co. (began as Alvin Beiderhase Co.)
Baker Manchester Mfg. Co.
H. H. Curtis Co., Inc. 
E. L Deacon Jewelry Co. (also E.L.D.)
Dominick & Haff 
Richard Dimes Company 
William B. Durgin Co. 
Fessenden & Company
William C. Finck Co. 
Fuchs & Beiderhase
Gorham Mfg. Co. 
Hamilton & Diesinger
Harvey & Otis 
George C. Homer
Howard Sterling Co.
International Silver Company 
Wm. B. Kerr & Co.
Peter L. Krider Co. 
Mauser Manufacturing Co.
Joseph Mayer & Bros., Inc. 
Manchester Mfg. Co.
Meriden Britannia Co.
Mermod, Jaccard & King
Newburyport Silver Co. 
Paye & Baker Mfg. Co.
Reed & Barton 
Charles M. Robbins (later Robbins Co.) 
Rogers, Lunt, & Bowlen Co.
Saart Bros. Company 
Joseph Seymour Mfg. Co. 
Shepard Mfg. Co. 
George W. Shiebler & Co.
Simpson, Hall & Miller Co. 
Geo. C. Shreve & Co.
Frank W. Smith Silver Co. 
Sterling Silver Mfg. Co. (also SSMC with Trade above and Mark below)
Sterling Silver Souvenir Co. (also S.S.S. Co)
H. H. Tammen Co. 
Tiffany & Co.
Towle Mfg. Co. (became Towle Silversmiths)
A. F. Towle & Son 
E. J. Towle Mfg. Co. (successor to Mayer 1945) 
Unger Bros. 
George L. Vose Mfg. Co. Inc. 
Watrous Mfg. Co. 
R. Wallace & Sons Mfg. Co. 
Watson & Newell Co. 
Weidlich Sterling Spoon Co. 
Wendell Manufacturing Co. (also W Co.)
Frank M. Whiting Co. 
Whiting Mfg. Co. 
Wilcox & Evertsen






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