I recently acquired a sterling silver spooner manufactured by Gorham in 1915. Between 1868 and 1933 Gorham used letters and symbols to date code their silver holloware. On this spooner along with the usual Gorham marks of a lion, anchor and G and the pattern number is an engraved sword that dates the piece to 1915. The piece measures 8.25” from handle to handle, 3” at the highest point and 1.5” at its widest point. It is designed to hold about a dozen teaspoons.The style of the piece is in part a reaction to the overly elaborate styles of the late Victorian period such as Aesthetic ware. There is something classic almost academic about this piece of silver. In turn, it has a faint echo of the Rococo in the curve of its handle and the cut out swirls on the side of the piece. This spooner possesses an understated elegance and sophistication.
I deeply enjoy these funny, but useful silver table implements meant to hold flatware. The Gorham spooner was probably used on the breakfast or tea table to hold teaspoons for a family and its guests. Spooners were out of fashion by the 1930’s.
The piece was owned by MSW , now lost to history. In 1915 the Great War was ravaging Europe and in the United States women still did not have the right to vote. Did MSW revel in their upper middle class life filled with Gorham sterling and perhaps a smattering of servants who not only set the table for breakfast or tea, but polished the spooner keeping it shiny and bright? Was MSW conscious of the history around them, the Great War, the Suffragette Movement etc.? Or were they mere players in a growing consumer capitalism who submitted to the dominant ideologies of the day?
And what is my relationship to this device of sterling silver? Why does it thrill me so and make me filled with anticipation to use it at my next dessert soiree or small buffet? What fantasies am I living out in the great within of my apartment?
In large part, as I have posted before, I am believe the piece possesses a patina of history which is simultaneously physical (the actual silver surface, its traces of use and polish), factual but unknown (Who owned it? How did it eventually enter my collection? How did it survive?) and fantasmatic (Who loved it? Why do I love it? My feelings when I use it?). In the end, it is invested with a certain energy. It becomes in the best sense of the word, a fetish.