Spoons and photos from the Andrew Kwiat collection

Editorial and Research by Wayne Bednersh

Caution - -This page contains NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES of black people. If this would offend you in any way - -click here to return to the exhibits page.

Embossed bowls were made after the silver makers decided that there was an adequate market for the particular scene shown. The cost to make a die for a spoon is a relatively expensive undertaking. However, once the die has been made, the spoon can be reproduced in quantity at a very reasonable cost. We must assume that the silver manufacturers determined that there would be adequate sales of these spoons to justify the initial upfront costs. It is quite common to have embossed spoons customized for different areas - -thus we might see the same picture but have different city names engraved into the bowl.


spoons blacks picking cotton

King Cotton was the most important agricultural commodity in the Southern States. Even with the cotton gin, it is hard tiring work.
The rightmost spoon showing the cotton fields is often seen with various handles. The middle spoon has "Augusta, Ga." engraved , but is also likely to be seen with other engraved names.


black spoons banjo players

"The history of the minstrels has been documented in several books, the best of which is Hans Nathan's Dan Emmett and the Rise of Early Negro Minstrelsy. Some musicians and dancers began performing in blackface while traveling with circuses in the 1820s and 1830s. They performed comedy routines and dances that poked fun at enslaved African Americans. African American stereotypes, developed during the minstrel era, persisted well into the 20th century." George R. Gibson - 2000

Return to Black spoons index

Return to Spoon Exhibits Index