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
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