This set of 8 large serving spoons
from the late 18th through the early 19th century chronicles one Swiss
It is not uncommon to find an occasional spoon engraved with names,
initials and or dates, however finding a group of 8 spoons
for the same family is very rare. Despite extensive research I have not
found anything comparable to this set.
Wedding and marriage customs vary significantly from culture to culture
and from religion to religion and from province to province and tribe
The custom of engraving the initials of the bride and groom and a date
onto a valuable silver spoon was mainly central European but spoons so
engraved have also been found in England, the USA and elsewhere.
Silver spoons were often chosen for important familial events because
they not only represented 'real wealth' but were also a symbol of food
consumption (one of the most important things that people
were very concerned about in eras where the availability of food would
often vary considerably from year to year.)
For a newly married couple sharing a common meal made the spoon an
My expertise lies with late 19th and early 20th century silver spoons,
so I am presenting the spoons and asking my readers for their help.
As you can see all of these spoons have engraved initials, names and
I have placed the spoons in chronological order so that you can also
see how the styling of spoons changed during the 1771 to 1822 time
All of these spoons appear to be hand made and appear to be a silver
alloy, but I am unsure of purity. I suspect that 800 silver was
A couple of the marks I was able to trace to Wil, Switzerland (the
third largest city in the canton of St. Gallen) and I suspect that all
of the spoons probably came from that area.
Styles of spoons have changed over the years and these spoons were
custom made, so the prevailing style popular at that point in time
would have been used.
Some of the spoons are in the uni-plat (French) style. Others have bent
tipts style and others are variations of the 'Old Engish" style.
Five different sets of silversmiths marks are represented on these
This is the oldest and most intriguing spoon of the set as it
lists the names of 7 people (a pretty difficult engraving task on
the back of a curved surface) along with the date of 1781.
One of the names (Johann Jacob) is very similar to the founder
(Schweppe) of a major brewing company during this time period, but I
cannot at this time confirm that it is the same person.
I am also unsure as to the reason all of these names are listed on this
This spoon also has the initials "A.R." engraved on the finial
This spoon shows two sets of initials and the year 1794. I suspect that
it was a marriage spoon
This 1795 spoon has the prettiest engraving on both the finial and the
bowl. It looks like two sets of initials so I am guessing it was a
Again two sets of initials. However you can see the 1806 date was
scratched into the metal by someone who was not a trained engraver.
I suspect that it was done sometime after the spoon was made when
someone was documenting the family history.
Again two sets of initials implying a marriage spoon, but also the word
"gott" and again you can see the 1807 date was scratched into the metal
by someone who was not a trained engraver.
"gott" is a German word that translates to "god" or "godmother" and it
scratched into the metal.
Again we have two sets of initials on this 1810 spoon and again you can
see that the word "gott" and the date were scratched into the metal by
an untrained engraver
Another set of two initials with a date of 1822 in a nice engraved
This spoon has ony one set of initials and I do not know if it was
meant to be a birth or funeral spoon. It is also undated.
I suspect that the engraving is supposed to represent a flower.
a picture of all 8 spoons from the front
This grouping of spoons has different maker marks
Swiss silver expert, Charles Cage, has graciously provided me with
further information on some of these marks.
1. The “R.B” mark is recorded but not identified. In
the references I have, it is not accompanied by any city mark, so the
Wil connection may be a clue to the maker’s identity.
Unfortunately, I cannot connect it to any Wil maker at the time with
2. The “HHB” mark is possibly an unidentified maker in Wil,
but more likely that of Hans Heinrich Bösch (1752-aft. 1790) of
Wattwil, a small town about 13 miles south of Wil (both canton St.
3. The “H/bird” mark is from Herisau (canton
Appenzell), the “H” being the city mark and the bird the
maker’s mark. It is known from church records that chalices
with this mark were supplied in the last third of the 18th century by a
maker with the surname Frehner, and indeed the bird matches the Frehner
coat-of-arms. The maker’s Christian name is not known, but
several of his descendants were also silversmiths, such as Johann Jakob
4. the “GW/L” mark is from Lichtensteig (canton St.
Gallen), the “L” being the city mark, and “GW”
the mark of silversmith Johann Georg Wörpel (1787-1831; Master
1813), who was orginally from the city of Preetz in the
Schleswig-Holstein region of Germany.
these two pictures show the same marks, but one has been flipped
as the marks are not all facing the same direction
These marks are " from Zurich, canton Zurich.
The two central marks are the Zurich city mark and the
assayer’s mark, both worn but certainly those used 1792-1806.
“CW” is the maker Hans Caspar Wüest I
(1766-1845, master 1787), and “CL” is the retailer Conrad
Locher (active 1789-1799)."
One of the oldest known German marriage spoons was discovered in the
wall of a house in Bad-Hersfeld, Germany and is dated 1587. (Christies
lot 105 sale # 2039)
A pair of large table spoons in the 'Old English' pattern was given to
English poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge on his wedding ca.
1794-95. (Bonham Auction lot 277, in 2013)
English seal top and trifid spoons from the late 17th century are
sometimes found with engraved initials indicating they were wedding
If you can shed more light on any of these spoons, please contact me
View Marriage spoon from 1776
Return to Marriage spoons index
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