Silver tea caddy spoons are used for taking dry, loose tea from a tea caddy and were designed to fit inside one of the tea caddy’s compartments. Silver caddy spoons can be found dating as far back as the 1770’s. Towards the end of the 18th century, production steadily increased and by the early 1800’s their popularity was thriving.
Construction and design
Two key methods were used in their construction. Either the bowl was die struck and hand joined to the pressed handle, or alternatively they were stamped as a single piece.
Although silver caddy spoons are often found in regular flatware patterns, the ones which strike interest with collectors are the novelty examples. Well known examples include fish, tea leaves, vine leaves, jockey caps, eagles’ wings, acorns, scallop shells and shovels. Caddy spoons often include further embossed, chased, engraved or bright cut decoration with some rarer examples depicting miniature rural landscape scenes to the bowls.
As always the condition will drastically affect the value. Therefore, it is important to check for splits in the bowl, damage to the handle and any potential signs of restoration. Another aspect to bear in mind is signs of forgery. For example, most common, shovel shaped examples can be found with the hallmarked end of a teaspoon handle soldered on to a caddy spoon’s bowl. Therefore, check to make sure that the marks are on the bowl and not the handle. Another example are those made out of watch cases in the early 19th century. Once again, the marks are a clear indicator in identifying this. Genuine examples from this period should bear a duty mark and the maker's initials should be enclosed within a punch mark unlike those on silver watch cases which have incuse stamped marks whereby only the letters are stamped into the surface.
Notable British silver tea caddy spoon makers
Joseph Taylor, William Bateman, Taylor & Perry, George Unite, John Le Gallais, Samuel Pemberton, Matthew Linwood, Josiah Snatt, George Unite, John Parsons & Co., Joseph Taylor, Robb of Ballater, Richard Poulden and Liberty & Co.
Although most silver tea caddy spoons were produced in England with the majority manufactured in Birmingham, examples can also be found from further afield, notably from Russia. Russian examples are typically silver or silver gilt with colourfully enamelled cloisonné or champlevé decoration with floral or foliate patterns. Some of these examples, dependent upon the maker, can be considerably high in value.
If you have any silver you would like to sell or have valued, please contact Robin Newcombe, silver specialist at Grand Auctions, Folkestone, Kent for further details.
- Posted by Robin Newcombe