Object Description

An early English period sterling silver spoon with a fig shape bowl and apostle terminal with Holy Dove nimbus. Weight 36 grams, 1 troy ounce. Length 17 cm. Bowl 5.5 x 4.3 cm. London circa 1657. Maker Stephen Venables, a leading spoon maker of the period.

Biography – Stephen Venables, London silversmith, b,1613/14-d.1683. Venables completed his apprenticeship to Daniel Cary and became free in 1640. A notable spoonmaker.

Signed – Table silver of this date was stamped with “up the handle” silver marks and it is not unusual that marks punched on the thin central part of the handle stamps are distorted or badly struck and difficult to read. From c.1780 onwards the Assay Office stamped table silver near the top of the stem as opposed to on the stem just below the bowl, and hallmarks are generally much clearer because there is more space on which to strike them.

Object Literature

In Medieval times personal eating implements were highly prized. Knives were displayed on the person in an ornate sheath. Spoons were part of formal dress for all social classes. Guests were expected to bring their own cutlery to a meal. Before the 18th century the only items of table silver made in any quantity were spoons. Silver forks are rare prior to the 18th century. It is unusual to find sets of table silver dating earlier than the late 18th century.

Apostle spoons were popular christening gifts in the 16th century. The finial could represent the patron saint of the giver or the name saint of the baby, or could be the apostle whose anniversary came closest to the christening. Most apostle spoons have a nimbus or halo on their heads, sometimes pierced to represent rays or cast or engraved with the Holy Dove.

Object Condition

This highly collectible spoon is in good condition with no damage or restoration. Stamped on the reverse for maker Stephen Venables with the lion mark; the date letter is not fully struck but is likely to be the symbol for 1657. Stamped on the front with the leopard for London. The bowl is still well formed.
Please note that this item is not new and will show moderate signs of wear commensurate with age. Reflections in the photograph may detract from the true representation of this item.

Object Classification

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