Are Souvenir Spoons Collectable?
You probably remember someone who Collected souvenir spoons. For me it was my grandmother, my dads mum, and I even helped her pick out some when she travelled to Sweden with us in the late 70s! They’re small and easy to pack, not expensive, and a simple reminder of the places you’ve visited.
In the mid 1800s wealthy people from England and America became the worlds first ‘tourists’ as they embarked on a Grand Tour of Europe. For the reasons above they brought home these souvenir spoons marked with the names of cities and some of the famous landmarks they had seen.
This idea was soon copied in America, and the first souvenir spoon was a commemorative spoon, produced in 1889 by silversmiths Galt & Bros of Washington D.C. featuring a profile of George Washington to mark the 100th anniversary of his presidency. It was shortly followed by the Martha Washington spoon.
In 1890, a Massachusetts another jeweller introduced a sterling silver spoon commemorating the Salem Witch trials. He sold 7,000 of them in the first year, and they were made until around 1920.
In Australia our first souvenir teaspoons also marked commemorative occasions rather than landmarks, and began appearing in 1901, Year of Federation. The first one was made in Birmingham, England and has motifs of sheep a ship, wheat and pick axe.
These early spoons were all made in sterling silver, either die stamped or cast, so often have a hallmark, or at least the word STERLING or the .925 mark.
Sterling silver or silver plate, most spoons sell for under $15, and many can be bought for just $1. A lot goes into determining value, including design elements (figural handles and decorated enamel bowls are desirable) and spoons featuring mining, military, World's Fairs, and historic sites usually find buyers. Only extremely nice interesting pieces in excellent condition will sell for more than $50 and only a very small percentage will sell for more than $100. Spoons selling above $300 are extremely RARE. Tea caddy spoons, however, are not as common, and do command higher prices.
Souvenir spoons are still produced, and they are still a nice way to commemorate an event, like a Royal Wedding for example. But if you realize that a new spoon is around $15-$20 and a few years later the same spoon will sell for about $5, they are not a great investment. They do take up less room than mugs though, and are almost as useful, except today's spoons with colored pieces stuck on do come off with washing. If you are going to collect spoons, I suggest looking for solid silver spoons which you can still find for about $10 each...they can also be turned into wonderful jewelry and used for sugar in your tea, just remember to hand wash them.