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Personal Effects

Souvenir spoons were once all the rage

 

By JERRY SAMPSON

 

Question: Mr. Sampson, I have so many these little spoons that were in my great aunt’s estate. And, I’ve noticed that in other family members’ homes they had a lot of these spoons. Why so many of them? I think I have 15 from Aunt G***** ‘s house. Do they have any value?

Answer: You have a souvenir demitasse spoon. Demitasse is a just different word for espresso, a strong thicker coffee. Typically served in smaller cups, it required a smaller spoon.

Collecting and sharing souvenir spoons was all the rage at the turn of the last century. Young girls and even grown women would trade and gift each other spoons to add to their collections. That’s why you see so many in older homes.

If you traveled to far flung places, like Chicago, you simply couldn’t leave a tourist site and not bring home a spoon or as a gift for a friend. They were the Beanie Baby or Boyd’s Bears of their

day. 

Except that silver spoons were at least useful. Sterling is always the best, and aside from a few

souvenir spoons from the 1930s, they were always made in sterling silver.

Your spoon was made by the Sterling Silver Manufacturing Company. SSMC operated in Providence, Rhode Island, from 1909 to about 1932. They made a long list of sterling silver flatware and hollowware pieces, including souvenir spoons. 

This little spoon likely doesn’t have a pattern name. It’s what collectors and dealers call NLP, Not Line Pattern. NLP means that it was just a pretty designed pattern and was not made for table services.

You do see a great deal of these spoons. But this one is pretty and collectors of Chicago items might be interested in it too. I’d wager that in an antiques store, it might be priced at about $10. This can vary depending on the pattern, maker and weight. 

Find a spoon rack and hang it up or use it for your next cup of espresso. Thanks for a great question.