Silver Spoons, Important in the Family

Our ancestors have used spoons in one shape or form for hundreds of years with different styles found across history and the globe. The use of knives at the table came later as did using a fork, come in the early 1800s. Most people had spoons made of wood, or animal horns or bone. In the 1600s the use of metal spoons especially made of silver were for the wealthy families.

As the American colonies developed in the 1600s and into the 1700s, families had some money for the silver spoons. Besides showing some economic and social standard, silver spoons could show if a food had arsenic, or sulfur and other poison as it would tarnish the silver. The use of silver was thought to be a form of cleanliness, that silver was even toxic to some bacteria. So using a silver spoon was much safer to eat with than one of bone or wood.

Young brides also requested gifts of a set of silver spoons, something that could be used by her future family for decades. It was even a long-standing practice that a newborn baby would be given a sterling silver baby spoon. The phrase “born with a silver spoon in your mouth” developed from that practice.

By the late 19th century having a full set of silverware made of pure silver or silver plated became very popular. Initials were engraved in the handles. If a full table setting could not be afforded, many families had at least large serving spoons of silver.

Manufacturers became well-known for their quality and had their own trademark on the back of the piece. Some well-known manufactures were: Gorham, Graff, Amston, Concord and Schofield to name a few.

They were truly an heirloom. It would be in the late 20th century that stainless steel dinnerware replaced the use of daily silverware.

Check with relatives, see who still has fine heirloom silverware.

Photos: Gorham Sterling Silver pieces; Silver Set in a chest and a fancy silver sugar spoon.

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Artifacts to Keep

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< Return To Blog I have my great grandmother's silverware she received as a wedding present in 1906. I used it daily for years and years. It's put up now, but only because I wanted a change in pattern. It's been so nice to own this.
Sara N Martin 9/11/20

Sounds great, just to have used it for years.
alice 9/11/20

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