Tlinget and Haida

The indians of the North West (Oregon, Washington, Canada, and Alaska) have their own unique customs and traditions. After training they also became experienced silversmiths, but in their own styles.

Totem pole spoons made by these native Americans are usually unmarked, but they are very similar in style so it is relatively easy to identify them. The silversmiths would typically use silver coins in the creation of their spoons.

tlinget and haida indian spoons

The top spoon has a rounded bowl engraved Alaska and a rounded handle with a totem pole. The hammer marks are very easy to see.

The bottom spoon is engraved "Wrangel" in the bowl. The handle is an engraved totem pole

The top spoon has an unusual cutout totem pole and each of the figures is also engraved

The bottom spoon has engraved symbols and the back is engraved "Sitka"

Sometimes these spoons have a half rounded stem and a flat top. I am not sure of the meaning behind this, but I have been told that it has a ceremonial connection.

The hammer marks are quite obvious on these spoons

The potlatch spoon has a unique shape (very similar to Chinese soup spoons) and was part of a ceremonial tradition.

Nicely engraved potlatch spoon with an eagle (raven?) eye in the bowl (see detail below)

The salmon fishing industry is very important to Alaska and to these tribes. These spoons pay tribute to the salmon.

The top spoon has a hand made full figure salmon handle and is engraved "Sitka" in the bowl

The bottom spoon has a very unusual shaped bowl with a salmon engraved in it. The handle also has a type of totem pole, but parts of it are repoussed.

A stylized handle, but I am unsure what it represents. The spoon is hand made and identified as coming from Sitka

Tiny print indicates that this spoon was made in honor of the centennial of the Alaska Purchase (1867 - 1967). This is a factory produced sterling spoon. This spoon is also available without the little mid-handle circular identification

Note: While the quality of the engraving and chasing on these spoons is not as fine as found in good quality factory produced spoons, it is much better than the engraving workmanship on the spoons from the Southwest.

A conventionally produced souvenir of Alaska featuring a polar bear, walrus and dog sled team. This spoon has a nice Tlinget indian engraved in the bowl. I suspect that this is a "generic" person rather than a particular chief. It is identified as being from Wrangell, Alaska

The Sheldon Jackson Museum in Alaska states:

"Thousands of small engraved silver spoons, many pounded out from silver coins, were taken
from Alaska during the flourishing tourist market of the late 1890s or early 1900s. Some were
carved by well known artists such as Rudolph Walton and Jim the Jeweler of Sitka. Others were
mass produced at “curio workshops” such as the ones in Skagway and Haines run by owners
such as Peter Kern, Herman Kirmse or Jim Williams and his wife.
Unfortunately, all too often the spoons went unsigned by the artist as is the case with this spoon
with the repousséd head and an eagle engraved in the bowl. The repoussé work on the spoon is
comparable to some of the work done by Walton, but doesn’t bear the characteristic found on
many of Walton’s works. However, not all pieces attributed to him bear the word Sitka. Artists
often shared or “borrowed” ideas from each other and unless a significant characteristic shows
itself on the spoon, the artist remains a mystery."

To see American manufacture concepts of totem pole spoons click here

To see South West American indian made spoons click here

Billiken spoons are pictured under American good luck spoons

return to Spoon World index