In 1890, a Massachusetts jeweler introduced a sterling silver spoon commemorating the Salem Witch trials. He sold 7,000 of them in the first year, and a new American tradition was born: the souvenir spoon.
Witch spoons were made until around 1920 and are worth about $100 today. Some other spoons from that period can bring five times that amount. But most spoons fall into the $20-to-$40 price range. A lot goes into determining value, reports Saturday Early Show Collectibles Contributor Tony Hyman.
Find out about other collectibles described by The Saturday Early Show's Tony Hyman in the Collectibles Archive or visit Tony Hyman's Web site.
If you think you have a collectible worth a lot of cash, send an email to email@example.com with "What's It Worth?" in the subject line. Or write to "What's It Worth?" The Saturday Early Show, 514 West 57th St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10019.
Design elements collectors like include: figural handles, skylines handles, and decorated bowls, especially enameled, which are very desirable.
Value is most dependent on "what's the spoon about?" Topics that find ready buyers include Indians, blacks, mining, military, World's Fairs, and historic sites. One woman collects only spoons from Niagara Falls and has more than 1,000 of them.
Old spoons with topics and designs collectors haven't seen before turn up all the time, so it's worth checking yours out, especially if it has an enamel bowl.
Spoons provided courtesy of Chris McGlothlin, known nationwide as "The Original Spoon Auctioneer." Chris is happy to answer any questions you might have concerning your spoons and their rarity or value. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a photograph (scan) of the spoon(s) with your inquiry, if possible.
Guide to spoons in the photo: TOP: Figural rifle handle with "Mess Hall" view, "Camp Perry, O." embossed in the bowl. By WATSON MFG CO. Circa 1905. 6 inches long.
LEFT TO RIGHT: 3-D statue of Columbus (his name enameled below) atop enamel decorated stem with figural eagle at base. Bowl is enameled as the western hemisphere and dated "1492/1892." By PETER HERTZ of Copenhagen for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago ("Chicago" shwn on map in bowl), 7 and 1/8 inches long.
Figural fishing rod with catch. Bowl is shaped as a 3-D shell and engraved "Astoria, Or." By H. H. CURTIS. Circa 1905. 5 inches long.
Figural Art-Nouveau style draped nude. Bowl embossed "Festival Hall & Cascade Gardens" view, "St. Louis, 1904." By WATSON MFG CO for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. 5 and 1/2 inches long.
Figural bust of Columbus (his name below) atop an ornate stem. Bowl contains a view of the Ohio Capitol. Cast by GORHAM MFG CO circa 1891. 6 inches long.
Figural Statue of Liberty forms the handle. "New York" City coat of arms is embossed in the bowl. Produced by SHIEBLER and patented in 1891. 5 and 7/8 inches long.
BOTTOM: "Lookout Mountain Battlefield" scenes on front and back. Embossed in the bowl is "Lookout Mountain" above a detailed view with "Chattanooga, Tenn." below. By WATSON MFG CO circa 1905. 5 and 3/4 inches long.
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