THE STORY OF THE SPOON

For the next part of our se­ries fo­cus­ing on the his­tory of house­hold ob­jects, we present the stir­ring story of the spoon

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Style | Design -

As the world’s old­est eat­ing iron, the spoon’s de­sign has been shaped by ev­ery coun­try, cen­tury and cul­ture on the planet for both prac­ti­cal and pre­ten­tious rea­sons. For in­stance, the deep-bowl soup spoon was in­vented by the El­iz­a­bethans as a de­vice to pre­vent splash­ing con­sommé on their fash­ion­able ruff col­lars. Head to tabletalk.org for more gems from the author of The Art of the Ta­ble: A Com­plete Guide To Ta­ble Set­ting, Ta­ble Man­ners and Table­ware. Here, we’ve scooped up just some of the high­lights.

1ST CEN­TURY SOUP SPOON, China

The great Chi­nese porce­lain canon pro­duced this style of low-slung la­dle, which con­tin­ues to be used across south­east Asia for eat­ing soup or por­ridge, and has be­come pop­u­lar for serv­ing ori­en­tal canapés on – with the flat base, it means it stands up­right on a tray.

1700s CADDY SPOON,

Lon­don Used to mea­sure out tea leaves, its scal­loped shape is be­lieved to have de­rived from the sea shells that were packed into chests of tea im­ported into Ge­or­gian Bri­tain. Later, a leaf shape be­came the caddy spoon sil­hou­ette of choice.

1760 SPOON TRAY, Stafford­shire

De­mand for spoon trays, the cook’s equiv­a­lent of a desk tidy, arose in the 18th cen­tury. Made of stoneware or soft-paste porce­lain, they usu­ally had fluted or ribbed edges to cup spoons and con­tain their drips.

1800– 1830 BAPTISMAL SPOON,

Jerusalem Re­sem­bling a plat­ter more than a spoon, this beauty is carved with New Tes­ta­ment scenes and flo­ral trim­ming. Tra­di­tion­ally given at a chris­ten­ing, the spoon’s ma­te­rial re­flected the new­born’s so­cial stand­ing.

1800s SALT SPOON, Lon­don

At a for­mal din­ner, each guest would be pro­vided with a portly in­di­vid­ual salt cel­lar and del­i­cate shovel, shell or la­dle-shaped salt spoon, which were usu­ally gold gilt on the in­te­rior to pre­vent salt from cor­rod­ing the sil­ver.

1904 MOUS­TACHE SPOON, Sh­effield

‘This is a typ­i­cal ex­am­ple of a piece of Vic­to­rian spe­cial­ist cut­lery,’ says the V&A Col­lec­tion. ‘Many Vic­to­rian gen­tle­men fol­lowed the fashion of large mous­taches which could be dis­fig­ured by food, and this in­ven­tion pre­vented that.’

1957 DESSERT SPOON, Copen­hagen

Arne Ja­cob­sen’s flat­ware for Ge­org Jensen is iconic. Its matte fin­ish and lin­ear de­sign were con­sid­ered so space-age that they were used in the 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. The fork and spoon are still sold at New York’s Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art.

2017 WOODEN POR­RIDGE SPOON,

Lon­don For­est + Found won an ELLE Dec­o­ra­tion Bri­tish De­sign Award in 2016 for its mod­ern take on the good old wooden spoon. To find out how to see these spoons and more, head to col­lec­tion.vam.ac.uk

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