by Wayne Bednersh
A spoon with a question on it has set me off on a historical
As you can see, this engraved sterling gold-washed spoon bowl has a
picture of Cupid sitting on a tree branch and shooting his arrow
through a heart (or a fruit). Around the picture, the words "What made
St. Joseph famous?" (the question mark is at the bottom of the bowl)
The spoon is a wavy handle Shepard Manufacturing Company
state series spoon with "Michigan" and the state symbol and a tree.
I quickly figured out that the spoon was referring to St. Joseph,
But why a cupid and why did it make St. Joseph famous?
Apparently there was no waiting period (as was the case in most
jurisdictions) from the time that a marriage license was issued
until the ceremony. Since St. Joseph was also a nice resort area
with the famous "Silver Beach" and amusement area and a number of
luxury hotels, it became a popular setting for weddings and also was an
inducement for people from nearby areas who wanted to elope. Ceremonies
were also held at the courthouse.
Then I discovered that I had a spoon showing the St. Joseph Court
House and it was also labeled "Cupid's Haven"
The handle on this spoon showed some fruit
At first, I thought these were apples, but I did some further research
and the leaves appear to be peach leaves and peaches do have a small
dent in them. However the area around St. Joseph is known for its fruit
trees which includes both peaches and apples. I did find this
information, "Surprisingly, Michigan's first commercially
successful fruit was neither the cherry nor the apple, but the delicate
peach. By the mid-nineteenth century peaches made Berrien County one of
America's great fruit producers." by William John Armstrong.
note: peaches on souvenir spoons are very rare.
With further research I found another spoon labeled as the Berrien
Springs County Court
This spoon is not the typical quality which we normally see in souvenir
spoons because it was made in 1974 as part of a centennial
celebration of the old court house. Obviously they did not want to put
the money into a detailed embossed picture as they did in the old days,
and there are very few engravers who can do the quality engraving work
which we typically find in souvenir spoons.
On the front small pictures show the "EMC south hall" "Battle Creek
College" a picture of an "inter urban" train and the words "Andrews
On the back the small pictures show "AD. Bldg Nethery Hall", "Pioneer
Church", "seminary" and a small bird.
The back of the bowl is engraved "Centennial 1874 1974" in block
Deanna West, County Coordinator, Berrien County, MI GenWeb also
informed me that in 1906 there was the H. A. Hamilton company located
on State Street, St. Joseph, MI that sold souvenir spoons and in 1908
there was the Sippel & Gilbert Company also located on State Street
that sold souvenir spoons. Deanna has also informed me that the Berrien
Springs court house (named after John M. Berrien) was the county seat
until 1894. It was moved to
St. Joseph in that year.
I do not know if this cupid spoon is related to this discussion, but it
is a nice example of cupid on a sterling souvenir spoon. Note the
intertwined hearts at the top and the arrow down the handle.
Manufactured by W.C. Finck, Co. of Elizabeth, New Jersey between 1896
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