by Jack F. Wilson

Sorry, folks. The pictures were lost when a virus attacked this website. I have no way of recovering them.
I first encountered these spoons on eBay as I was searching through listings of English sterling silver. I had built a small collection of Georgian pieces once, and although I had stopped collecting, I still window shopped!
One of the first things I discovered about these fascinating replicas is that there is a lot of incorrect information being offered as definitive facts.
Spoon made and cased to commemorate the Coronation of Edward VIII, which never took place
Spoon made and cased to commemorate the Coronation of Edward VIII, which never took place.
Photo courtesy of Deakin & Francis Ltd.
I unknowingly passed on some of this chaff in my early days of acquiring knowledge. Fortunately, I became acquainted with a fellow collector named Barry Potter, who lives in Middlesex, England. A true gentleman and scholar, he was able to pass on some expert knowledge in this arcane field of collecting. He also wrote a short article (from which I have borrowed for this article).
Perhaps some of those whom I misinformed will have the opportunity to read this little attempt at sharing somewhat firmer knowledge.
Authorities agree that the oldest silver spoon known to be English in origin is the Coronation Spoon, preserved among the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London, and that it most probably has been used in Coronations of British Monarchs since the 12th or early 13th Century.
It is made of silver gilt, and is the only remaining piece of the original Royal Regalia. Some of the other items of the Regalia were disposed off by Charles I, the remainder were sold or melted down at the time of the Commonwealth.
profile of spoon, showing how the spline is joined to the bowl Interior of spoon bowl, showing marks, including Deakin & Francis maker?s mark
profile of spoon, showing how the spline is joined to the bowl
Photo courtesy of Deakin & Francis Ltd.
Interior of spoon bowl, showing marks, including Deakin & Francis maker’s mark.
Photo courtesy of Deakin & Francis Ltd.
The Anointing Spoon was purchased and returned by the purchaser at The Restoration. The spoon is 10 1/4" long, overall, and weighs 3 oz.,8 dwts, decorated with four freshwater pearls set in the widest part of the attenuated handle, which is decorated with chasing up to its writhen top. Overall the design predates Christianity. The thin bowl, which is joined to the stem by a modified elbow depicting the head of a leopard, has a central ridge, thus allowing two fingers of the anointing archbishop to be dipped into the oil.
It is thought to have been rebuilt for the 1661 coronation, when the spoon was re-gilt, and is decorated with an arabesque pattern. It may be pointed out that, this, probably the most valuable ancient English spoon in existence, does not possess any authenticating marks.
Sterling silver and silver gilt replicas of the Anointing Spoon have been manufactured for at least 134 years. They vary in accuracy of replication as well as in quality. The early spoons (1873-1909) are fairly consistent in both categories. Much of this depends on when and by whom they were made. However, beginning in 1910 some diminution in quality begins to appear in design and production.
British hallmarks are usually London or Birmingham, but examples also exist from Sheffield, Chester, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. The locations of the hallmarks vary among the interior of the bowl, its back, or on any face of the handle and can be difficult to locate, as they often are hidden within the intricate design of the bowl or handle.
Published pictures of the original spoon exist in coronation and Crown Jewel books, but pictures of replicas are hard to find. One such can be found of an 1883 spoon, hallmarked in London, in Silver Flatware by Ian Pickford, and several pictures are in Silverware of the World.
I have been unable to discover why the first replicas were made. Their years of production do not necessarily coincide with any major celebration connected with the Monarchy.
Spoon produced by Saunders & Shepherd
Spoon produced by Saunders & Shepherd. Photo courtesy of Saunders Shepherd & Co Ltd.
Detail showing hallmarks.
Detail showing hallmarks. Photo courtesy of Saunders Shepherd & Co Ltd.
There have been some incorrect assertions made regarding their manufacture and distribution.

First incorrect assertion: These spoons were created in the coronation years during the twentieth century as commemoratives of the coronations.
While it is true that they were made in the coronation years, they also were made in practically every year (with some wartime exceptions) since at least 1873, according to the Commemorative Collectors Society in Great Britain.
My first acquisition came in a box with an advertisement for four sizes of spoons. I decided to collect the four spoons for each coronation in the twentieth century (based on faulty information). That meant, I thought, a collection of sixteen spoons. I soon discovered that this was not even a drop in the ocean!
The earliest example in my own collection is dated 1885, sixteen years before the death of Victoria and the accession of Edward VII. Years of production represented in my collection and others I know are as follows: 1873, 1885, 1886, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1923, 1927, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1971, 1978, 1995, 1997, and 2004. You will notice the conspicuous break in production periods which coincide with the two World Wars.
There often were some rather fine cases made during the coronation years as commemoratives (I have run across many such boxed sets, including a set of six spoons, made in 1936, for teaspoon use, I assume, with the case marked for the coronation of Edward VIII, which, of course, never took place).
The Anointing Spoon design was also issued in some interesting variations: forks, pickle forks, toast racks, etc. Some of these were cased, or somehow marked, as coronation commemoratives.

Second incorrect assertion: The spoons were made only by English silversmiths.
In fact, I have spoons in my collection hallmarked in six assay cities (Birmingham, Chester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, and Sheffield), and I have and have seen examples from the European Continent (most often Holland) and Canada.
The spoons I have seen from Canada frequently combine the design of the Anointing Spoon with the addition of a specific commemoration in the form of a medal at the end of the spoon handle. Sometimes this takes the form of a profile head of the newly-crowned Sovereign, along with his or her spouse (except for Edward VIII), the Coronation Chair, a crest, or the monarch’s cipher.
Variety of replicas made by Saunders & Shepherd
Variety of replicas made by Saunders & Shepherd. Photo courtesy of Saunders Shepherd & Co Ltd

Acknowledgements: Thanks go to my friend, mentor, and fellow collector, Barry Potter of Hayes, Middlesex, England, who provided invaluable and hard-sought material for this article. As a body of information, it is not found anywhere else, and I could not have found all of his sources on my own. His generosity in sharing this information is deeply gratifying. Mr. David Freeman-Valle, General Manager of Saunders Shepherd & Co Ltd., was most generous in his time and efforts in tracking down members of the firm who might have the information I requested and in providing and making some of the photographs. Mr. Tony Shepherd, Chairman of SS&Co, provided invaluable memories of spoon production. Mr. John Coupland, Managing Director of SS&Co, generously shared part of his private collection to be photographed. SS&Co provided photographs of spoons from their museum. Mr. James Deakin of Deakin & Francis, Ltd provided an anecdote and some photographs. I exchanged several emails with Craig Robathan, Proprietor of C. Robathan & Sons Ltd, Birmingham. He very kindly looked into their reco (If you have a request of them, please provide a photograph or drawing of the maker’s mark). Thanks are due to those representatives of firms and organizations who responded to my requests for information with sincere regrets. So much valuable information has been destroyed or lost.

- PART 2

My collection presently has spoons dating from 1885 to 1997, with one hundred and thirty-five examples. Fifty-four silversmiths are represented in the collection, although not all of them actually made the spoons they have marked as theirs, particularly from 1936 onwards.
Spoon from the author's collection by Barker Brothers Ltd, Birmingfham 1952
Spoon from the author's collection by Barker Brothers Ltd, Birmingfham 1952, 25.30 cm
Examples of teaspoon-sized replicas with highly abbreviated ornamentation began to appear in or around 1910. There were vestigial remnants of some of the ornamentation on the original spoon found on these examples, but many were definitely made utilizing stamping machines and not cast. Earlier examples were made up of cast [and sometimes stamped] parts sweated together. Often the bowl engraving on the earlier examples was cast, but many of these castings were refined by hand chasing. Bowl shape varies as well. Some are rather narrow, others broad-ranging to almost round. I have a few examples of a spade-shaped bowl. Also around this time smaller versions to be used as salt and mustard spoons began to appear.

In 1910 the pendant and brooch forms made their appearance. Before the anticipated coronation of Edward VIII, and the eventual coronation of George VI in 1937, several examples of spoons were made for actual use, such as teaspoons, in addition to being keepsakes or commemoratives.

Barry Potter made this observation: "The spoon design has also been used in a variety of other silverware of which the following have been observed or reported:

i) A brooch of 1 7/8" length, hallmarked Chester, made by C.D Saunders & J.F.H. Shepherd.
ii) A necklace ornament of 1 1/2" length (in non-hallmarked silver of non-British origin).
iii) A pair of sugar tongs (reported).
iv) A knife and fork set (reported).
v) A pickle fork of 6 5/8" length, hallmarked London 1910, and made by Barnard & Sons.
vi) A Salt and Mustard Spoon Set, hallmarked Birmingham 1901, but with the backs of each handle being plain.
vii) A pair of 20th Century Salt and Mustard Spoons, incorporating the handle design only, the bowls being plain.
viii) A 2" high, ornamental chalice, hallmarked London 1910, made by Saunders & Shepherd, with the spoon being used for the handle. The side of the chalice has, in relief, the emblems of England, Scotland and Ireland.
ix) A Toast Rack, hallmarked London 1910, made by Saunders & Shepherd with pairs of 3" spoons [4 pairs], handles crossed, used as the upright dividers. The central divider has two 4 1/2" spoons, further embellished with the outline of a crown, as an extension to the handles.
x) A set of 6 Coffee Spoons with a pair of Sugar Tongs [Cased] of Dutch origin.
xi) A pair of pickle forks of 6 5/8" length, hallmarked London 1937 and made by Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co., Ltd.
xii) A set of 6 Coffee Spoons of 4 1/8" length with a pair of Sugar Tongs (Boxed), hallmarked London 1910, and made by Saunders & Shepherd, stamped with a Registration Number of 57028.

Spoons have also been used in conjunction with other objects to create presentation sets; one example of this is a cased set containing an enamelled 8" spoon (Birmingham 1933), maker Levi & Salaman] paired with a silver bowl (Chester 1910) making a presentation Christening Set.
Parchment printed exposition of the Anointing Spoon history
Parchment printed exposition of the Anointing Spoon history
Photo courtesy Saunders Sheperd & Co Ltd.
It is obvious that a great many of the smaller late spoon forms were made by stamping them out from one or two dies that were utilized by a single (or a small number of) producer(s), and then sold to other shops where their hallmarks and maker marks were added. The uniformity of detail cannot admit any other explanation. I have found only one example of the old quality made after the 1953 coronation of Elizabeth II (1955, Saunders & Shepherd).

From the earliest dates these spoons could be had in silver gilt or in plain sterling silver. My 1885 example retains quite a bit of its original gilding, and many examples of later date gleam like solid gold.

When I wrote Mr. David Freeman-Valle, General Manager of Saunders Shepherd & Co Ltd. of London [formerly, Saunders & Shepherd], he made contact with several people in the firm and asked them about any history of spoon production. Unfortunately, the company’s records were destroyed in 1941 during the Blitz. However, the present chairman, Mr. Tony Shepherd, had these recollections:

"I can only state the fairly obvious, from memory, as you know our records were destroyed by bombing in 1941. I recall:
- Associated with each Coronation.
- Always sterling silver.
- Usually the spline and bowl were cast as one but for the larger spoons the splines and bowls were cast separately.
- The method of casting before 1941 was by "sand casting", whereby a form was created by pressing the master-model into wet sand, either in once piece or two pieces, later to be "sweated" (fused) together. As can be imagined, this method gave rise to many failures and faults unless the highest skills were employed, until centrifugal casting was developed after (World War II).
Hence, SS&Co’s success in this field.
- The bowl was always gilded inside, if it had been cast as opposed to pressed. Often the splines were gilded too.

Mr. Freeman-Valle also provided some excellent photographs from the firm’s museum and from the personal collection of Mr. John Coupland, Managing Director of SS&Co. Some of these photographs appear in this article.
Cased set of spoons made to commemorate the Coronation of Edward VIII
Cased set of spoons made to commemorate the Coronation of Edward VIII,
which did not take place due to his abdication .
Photo courtesy Saunders Sheperd & Co Ltd.
Mr. James Deakin, of Deakin & Francis, Limited (formerly James Deakin & Sons, Birmingham and Sheffield) responded to my request for information thusly: "We undoubtedly made anointing spoons but really do not have any records of them. This example (see Addendum) from our museum was made for Edward VIII when he was marrying Mrs. Simpson, but he abdicated before it happened!"

Craig Robathan, Proprietor of C. Robathan &Sons Ltd, a Birmingham firm founded in 1908, passed on some information. "My company made a tea spoon of 4 1/8” (10.50 cm) long, a salt spoon of 2 3/8” (6.0 cm) long and a mustard spoon of 2 5/8” (6.70 cm) long. We started making the Anointing Spoons in 1952 in time for the Queen’s Coronation in 1953." The latest spoon from this firm in my collection dates to 1997.

So many of the silversmiths were in business for such a short time, and their records are just non-existent, being lost or destroyed. Many of the firms only issued one spoon, because they were in production for only one year, their owners moving in and out of business as shop masters, partners and journeymen. But the great firms, Saunders & Shepherd, Wakeley & Wheeler (taken over by Barry Witmond, who did his apprenticeship there), The Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Company [acquired by Garrard], produced top quality replicas over the years with high consistency. It is to be hoped that, should Queen Elizabeth II live another five years, these firms will continue their tradition and offer replicas to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. And if she turns out to live as long as The Queen Mother did, we might look forward to spoons commemorating the longest reign in British history. At any rate, collectors would be gratified to be treated to fine quality replicas in the future and not have to be satisfied with the stamped, souvenir-type spoons so common today.
Back of bowl with Saunders & Co maker's mark detail of Saunders & Co maker's mark
Back of bowl with Saunders & Co maker's mark
Photo courtesy Saunders Sheperd & Co Ltd.
Detail of Saunders & Co maker's mark
Photo courtesy Saunders Sheperd & Co Ltd.
Collecting these spoons presents its own problems. Most shop owners and other vendors do not know what they have. They know they have a British spoon, maybe even the assay city and the year mark. Rarely do they know the maker. They don’t know what kind of spoon it is, nor really how to price it, since no catalogues or guides exist. eBay usually has several examples for auction at any given time. The lack of knowledge found in established shops is equally present on eBay. Uniformity of valuing is similarly lacking. A spoon worth seventy-five to one hundred dollars may languish for weeks on end with a four-hundred and fifty dollar starting price, while a quite valuable and rare spoon may be offered with no reserve and a starting price of ninety-nine cents. It is very much of a flea market atmosphere. Having said this, I must assert that eBay has been a wonderful venue for collecting these spoons, and the sellers have been uniformly kind and helpful.

The collecting of these Anointing Spoon replicas has brought me considerable joy in the hunt and the acquisition; kindled my enthusiasm for detective work in trying to puzzle out the identities of silversmiths; and many hours of relaxation studying the intricacies of design and execution of these spoons. It has also given me a glimpse into the continuity of tradition in the life of the British people and the heritage of their great workshops of guildsmen.

Jack F. Wilson

Jack died in 2009. But shortly before his death he gave me and the SCSC permission to reprint this article which was originally

JACK FOWLER WILSON is a retired Episcopal priest living in the southeastern United States in Alabama. His enthusiasm for collecting these spoons comes from an appreciation of fine craftsmanship and British ancestry on both sides of his family.
His father’s parents emigrated from England, and his mother’s family came to these shores from Scotland and Wales. 
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