Being from the South, Silver is a very big part of my life. It doesn't have anything to do with wealth. Although those with more money - old money, tend to have more of it. New money tend not to spend their money on Silver. They do not have the appreciation for the warmth of the metal, the beauty of the patina, the story it tells of the generations past who have used it. A true southern girl comes of age when she chooses her silver pattern, long before she chooses her mate. If she is smart, she chooses that of her mother, grandmother, or favorite great aunt who in their benevolence will pass their silver on to her. It is the pieces in those sets, the pieces on our tables, along with the pieces we find in the corners of the displays in antique stores that prompted me to start this blog. They are beautiful, they are odd, but what are they, and what in the hell do you do with them?
Like most pieces in a flatware pattern, there are 2 categories of spoons. There are the place spoons, used by individual diners, the pieces set at their 'places' at the table. And then there are the serving spoons.
A diner often finds several pieces (in addition to their dinner fork, dinner knife, and teaspoon) at their place. The pieces are set per course, with each being removed between courses and replaced by the appropriate pieces for the following course. Most sterling silver flatware was designed during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. And it is true to say, a Victorian never found, a dish, a course, or a condiment that they could not design an appropriate utensil for.
Why have "just" a pickle spoon when there are so many types of pickles and relishes and piccalilli, as well as olives and chow chow. Or a jelly spoon when there are jams and jellies and marmalade. And, of course, one cannot use a "regular" teaspoon to serve coffee. Needless to say one has to consider whether it is 4 O'Clock or 5 O'Clock. The 4 O'Clock spoon is for high tea, traditionally served at 4 pm and the 5 O'Clock spoon is for coffee served later in the afternoon. And a Demitasse spoon for coffee after dinner.
There are 4 types of soup spoons, each designed for a different consistency of soup. Whether it is Cream, Bouillon, or Gumbo, upon closer look one can see how each of the designs suits the soup. The Place Soup spoon is the most practical piece in a 5 piece place setting. It can be used for soup, a soft course such as jello or even as a serving spoon, if such is needed in a clutch.
And, so it goes. Now, not all patterns, in fact I think it is safe to say that few patterns, have all these different types of spoons. Most people find all the different pieces extravagant or useless. But, the Victorians had a sense of style. Using all the pieces for the appropriate courses slows down a meal, giving time for conversation and enjoyment. So my advice, if you find you have some of these unique pieces of sterling, use them for what they were designed. After all, a meal is not simply a means for subsistence, it is a time to enjoy good food and good company - Bon Appetite!
In 1890, Frank Smith introduced their Cellini pattern. This is one of those patterns that is greatly enhanced with a monogram. Note the difference between these 2 pieces which is remarkable with the only difference in the designs is that one is engraved. Demitasse Spoon (4 inches