The Earliest Silver Caddy Spoons

A Study of Early Silver Caddy Spoons

In 1769, John Pickering patented a new stamping press that revolutionised the way in which silver could be made. Pickering was a London toy maker with his products mostly made from copper and brass, but the silver trade quickly adopted the idea to make component parts and whole objects from sheet silver. The process involved making shaped dies in the desired form and stamping sheet metal against an opposing die; it was the beginning of mass production and allowed silversmiths to produce pieces more quickly and more cheaply.

The larger workshops and specialist manufactories would have invested in the new machinery and had dies made to suit their needs. The workshop managed by Hester Bateman was famously one of the early protagonists and successfully produced attractive, well-designed silverware at prices affordable to the middle classes. In line with the silver trade of the 19th and 20th centuries, some manufacturers would have been specialist suppliers to the trade, whether that be in component or whole item form. As we shall find out within this study, this can sometimes pose difficulties in identifying the actual maker of particular items as retailer silversmiths would often buy-in either semi-finished or finished products and have them marked with their own punches.

It’s more than just coincidence that the caddy spoon first made its appearance at roughly the same time that the stamping press became available and quickly superseded the mote spoon that had been the spoon of choice for conveying tea from caddy to pot. Dies could be made up to turn a thin sheet of silver in to the required form of spoon, which could then be decorated and finished to satisfy the latest fashions. The earliest caddy spoons therefore date from about 1770.

In his magnum opus, “Caddy Spoons: An Illustrated Guide”, John Norie suggests that caddy spoons of an earlier date exist, but admits that there are too few examples to back up this claim. The spoons to which he refers were generally cast and always hand-made. Their purpose may well have been for tea, but equally could have been for sugar, condiments or be multi-purpose in function and these spoons have been omitted from this treatise.

Hallmarks provide the silver collector with a definitive surety of age, place of origin and maker.  However, in line with other small, London-made spoons, caddy spoons were not struck with a date letter until 1781 and so this presents the collector with a peculiar uncertainty for the earliest examples. The standard procedure for hallmarking small spoons during the period in question was with the lion passant and maker’s mark, however in reality many are struck with just one of these marks, sometimes a maker’s mark struck twice or occasionally with neither.

Figure 1 Main Caddy Spoon Forms 1770-1781

This study aims to put some chronological sequence to the production of London-made caddy spoons made prior to 1781 and to ascertain the names of the main producers. To achieve this there are two key identifiers; spoon form and maker marks.

During the 1770’s and 1780’s, caddy spoons were rarely produced in other silver making centres, with the exception of Sheffield where the majority were made in fused silver (Old Sheffield Plate) and those examples made in silver were fully hallmarked, thus being readily dated and ascribed. The evolution of caddy spoon production in Sheffield generally followed a different line to those in London and so does not help us in our quest, this was presumably as a result of different tooling arrangements in the two distant cities thereby preventing the sharing of dies and ideas. The exception being the short handled caddy spoon with large fluted bowls (Norie plate 28a & b and plate 33) which was produced in both London and Sheffield circa 1780.

In both centres, some workshops would have cooperated with each other, whilst others would have been in keen competition, thus providing  a healthy backdrop of sharing, competing and  rapid advancement of design development, with new tooling and ideas that were fuelled by consumer demand and quick-changing fashions. In the first dozen years of caddy spoon production a fascinating, diverse range of designs appeared.

Figure 2 shows a selection of London-made caddy spoons that all date prior to the introduction of the date letter in 1781. Reference to them throughout this article will be made according to row (A to D) and numbered 1 to 6/7 from left to right.

Figure 2 selection of caddy spoon 1770-1781

 Table 1 (with Reference to Figure 2)

Ref:

Form

Maker

Date

A1

Old English

Thomas Chawner

c.1773

A2

Old English

Thomas Heming

c.1770

A3

Onslow Trifurcated

William Brockwell

c.1778

A4

Onslow Feather Edge

Thomas & William Chawner

c.1770

A5

Onslow Bead

Walter Tweedie

c.1778

A6

Onslow Bright-cut

unmarked

c.1780

A7

Onslow Feather Edge

George Smith III

c.1775

B1

Old English Feather Edge

Thomas Heming

c.1772

B2

Old English Feather Edge

Thomas Heming

c.1772

B3

Old English Feather Edge

Thomas Heming

c.1772

B4

Old English Feather Edge

Thomas Heming

c.1772

B5

Old English Feather Edge

Thomas Chawner

c.1775

B6

Openwork Terminal

George Smith II

c.1778

C1

Old English Bead

Walter Tweedie

c.1778

C2

Old English Bead

John Lambe

c.1778

C3

Old English Bead

George Smith III

c.1778

C4

Old English Bead

Wm Sumner & R Crossley

c.1778

C5

Old English Bead

Wm Eley & G Pierrepoint

1778

C6

Openwork Terminal

Wm Eley & G Pierrepoint

1778

C7

Engraved Both Sides

Thomas Tookey

c.1780

D1

Short Handle Bead

John Lambe

c.1780

D2

Short Handle Bright Cut Border

Robert Hennell

c.1780

D3

Short Handle Bright Cut Border

Wm Sumner & R Crossley

c.1780

D4

Bright Cut Engraved

Thomas Tookey

c.1780

D5

Bright Cut Engraved

Wm Sumner & R Crossley

c.1780

D6

Bright Cut Engraved

William How

c.1780

Spoon Form

The form of caddy spoons can be simply grouped in two ways – form of bowl and form of handle.

Bowls

In “Caddy Spoons: An Illustrated Guide”, John Norie illustrates on plate 1 a selection of the earliest caddy spoons and he terms them as “ladles” rather than spoons, because the preponderance was for deep, round bowls akin to the forms used for serving salt, sauce and soup. These deep bowls can either be fluted (A1, A5, A7, B1-5 and C1), or plain (A2, A4, A6 and C2). These two options do not appear to be an age determiner and indeed soup and sauce ladles from the mid-18th century are represented by both.

As the 1770’s progressed, bowls tended to become flatter with a variety of shapes, including round, pear-shaped, oval and elliptical. At this time, William Brockwell introduced his familiar waisted form where the bowl is pinched in as it leaves the junction with the handle (A3).

The choice of bowl decoration at this early stage appears to have been limited to either plain or fluted and the popularity of both appears to have been roughly similar. Fluted bowls could be simply stamped out to the required form with appropriate dies and would have been easier to finish than a plain surface, where any blemishes would be more discernible.

Handles

Old English Pattern

 

Figure 3 Old English Pattern Caddy Ladles (A1 & A2) - circa 1770-73

Figure 4 Reverse Sides

 

The years either side of 1770 provide an indistinct watershed between the two major flatware patterns of the 18th century; Hanoverian and Old English. There is a blurring of the boundary as those patrons on the cutting edge of fashion adopted the new Old English style in the 1760’s, whilst the more traditional continued to commission the Hanoverian pattern in to the early 1770’s. It is surely no fluke that the more fashion conscious would have more readily bought in to the idea of a new spoon specifically intended for tea and that 18th century caddy spoons do not appear to exist in the Hanoverian pattern. This provides further evidence that caddy spoons were not being produced prior to 1770.

Decorated Old English Pattern

Figure 5: Old English Caddy spoons with feather edging (top row – B1, B2 & B3) - circa 1772 & bead edging (lower row – C1, C4 & C5) - circa 1778

Figure 6 Reverse sides

 

 

 

The Old English pattern could be decorated with engraving (e.g. feather edge) or by adapting the dies to incorporate a bead edge. Fully hallmarked table spoons and larger serving items can provide approximate dates for the introduction of these two variations – engraved feather edging from the early 1770’s (B1, B2, B3, B4 & B5) and the bead edging (c1, C2, C3 C4 & C5) later in the same decade. As always, there will some overlap in their production periods.

Onslow Pattern

Figure 7 Onslow Pattern Caddy Spoons (A3 to A7) - Circa 1775-81

Figure 8 Reverse sides

 

The other major pattern of the mid-18th century is now known as Onslow pattern and generally features a cast scroll terminal, however on caddy spoons this was often incorporated in to the die. The pattern was produced from circa 1740 through to the 1790’s and so in itself cannot provide an accurate date for caddy spoons of this ilk. The spoons shown in figure 2 as A3, A4, A5, A6 and A7 all portray Onslow style terminals. Spoons A4 and A7 are additionally decorated with a feather edge (circa 1770-75) and A5 with a bead edge (circa 1778).

The two spoons shown as plate 1b in “Caddy Spoons: An Illustrated Guide”, are outliers from the mainstream of caddy spoon evolution, and although potentially intended as caddy spoons, may well have been used for other purposes instead.

Norie records three examples in the Onslow pattern that were made by Hester Bateman (plate 17). These spoons represent her earliest productions before she introduced the more well-known bright-cut engraved examples.

Openwork Terminal

Spoons with an openwork terminal are probably the most beautiful and certainly the most fragile of all early caddy spoons. Known makers of this type include George Smith II, William Brockwell and the partnership of Eley & Pierrepoint. They tend to always exhibit trifurcated joins between handle and bowl to give them added strength and one might speculate that they are all made by the same maker who supplied them to others.

Figure 9 Openwork handles (C6 & B6) & Onslow with trifurcated handle (A3) – circa 1778

Figure 10 Reverse sides

 

 

Short Handles

Figure 11 Short Handles - Circa 1778 - 1787

Figure 12 Reverse sides

 

Using just thumb and forefinger, these attractive spoons with short handles lent themselves perfectly for an elegant tea ceremony. From the five spoons illustrated in fig. 10/11, it can be seen that they tended to have generous, circular, fluted bowls and with a cuff-shape, axe head or squared-off handle. This form of spoon was also produced in Sheffield with a fully hallmarked, plain handled version illustrated as Norie 28a, providing  a definitive production date of 1778.  Two of the spoons shown in figure 11 post-date 1780, with the top left being a George Smith III example bearing the “f” for 1781, showing it to be the very earliest London caddy spoon with a date letter. The lower right is hallmarked for London 1787 by Charles Hougham and shows that by this date a fourth mark for duty payment has been added.

Bright-Cut Engraved

Figure 13 Bright-cut engraved - circa 1780

Figure 14 Reverse sides

 

The spoons in this category follow the popular and familiar style of the late 18th century, with attractively bright-cut engraved handles. In the case of the three illustrated spoons the bowls have simple fluting and all three were made prior to 1781.

Additionally, a handsome George Smith II bright-cut engraved example has been noted with a trifurcated handle.

Engraved Both Sides

Figure 15 Engraved both sides - circa 1780 to 1785

Figure 16 Reverse sides

 

Caddy spoons with decoration to the reverse sides are very rare and appear to be limited to the early years of the 1780’s. Of the three examples shown, two bear date letters for 1783 and 1785 and were made by George Smith III. The earliest of the trio is marked with the TT script makers mark for Thomas Tookey and has a simple rounded handle with a restrained engraved border around the reverse side, whereas the others have more ambitiously shaped handles and fully engraved undersides.

Makers

Identifying the maker’s marks on the caddy spoons can help with more accurately dating a piece, especially where their earliest recorded date or end of working period coincides with the pre-1781 period. However, to make the task more difficult the 1758-1773 register of largeworkers (which included some caddy spoon makers) is missing and so it has not been possible to conclusively identify some marks or causes the working periods to be somewhat speculative.

Table 2

Maker’s Mark with known working dates (Grimwade reference number in brackets).

 

Photo of mark

Number of examples noted*

Reference of attributed caddy spoons

GS – George Smith II (1758 to 1796) mark entered 1771 (898)

 

 

2

B6

GS (script) – George Smith III (1774 to 1790) mark entered 1774 (906)

 

 

8

A7, C3, Norie 1f, 2a, 3f

HB (script) – Hester Bateman (1761 to 1790) Similar marks entered throughout the 1770’s (959-961)

 

7

Norie 17b, d & f

I.L – John Lambe (pre-1773 to 1796) mark entered 1774 (1472)

 

 

4

C2, D1

RH – Robert Hennell I (1763 to 1811) mark entered May 1772 (2330)

 

3

D2, Norie 3d

TC – Thomas Chawner (1773 to 1785) mark entered 1773 (2718)

 

3

A1 (Norie 1a), B5

W/TC/C – Thomas & William Chawner (1759 to 1773) mark entered c1768, (3817).

N.B. Mark illustrated is mis-struck on a narrow shank

 

1

A4 (Norie 1c)

TH (script) Thomas Heming (?) 1745 to 1774 (2797 & 3828)

 

 

7

B1, B2, B3, B4

TH (script)

(Probably the same maker as above)

 

1

A2

TT (script) – Thomas Tookey (1773 to c1780) – mark entered 1779 (2949)

 

 

3

C7, D4

W.B – William Brockwell (1776 to c1825?) mark entered Dec. 1776 (3026)

 

9

A3, Norie 2e

WE/GP – William Eley & George Pierrepoint (Nov 1777 to Nov 1778) Mark entered 1777 (3111)

 

2

C5, C6 (Norie 2b)

W.H – William How (1771 - ?) Mark entered 1771 (3160)

 

 

2

D6

WS/RC – William Sumner I & Richard Crossley (1775 to 1782), mark entered May 1775 (3334)

 

4

C4, D3 (Norie 1d), D5

W.T - Walter Tweedie (pre-1773 to 1786) mark entered 1775 (3343)

 

 

3

A5, C1

 

  • Sources used: The Collection of Preston G Gaddis II, examples illustrated in “Caddy Spoons: An Illustrated Guide”, by John Norie, current and past stock items of Reign Beau Ltd. (some can be viewed on the caddy spoons page of this website) and spoons found on the internet.

Notes on the Makers

In the addendum to "Caddy Spoons: An Illustrated Guide", John Norie lists all the makers of caddy spoons that he or others encountered. The list is comprehensive, but also contains some unlikely candidates. Included in the discussion below are some of the pre-1781 London makers that he suggests and the likelihood of encountering caddy spoons made by these nominees.

George Smith III was a specialist spoonmaker and is known to have made many caddy spoons. George Smith II was a less prolific spoonmaker, but his partnership with Thomas Hayter later in the century is known to have produced caddy spoons and so confirms his pedigree.

All three Thomas Chawner caddy spoons (one Old English and two feather edge) that we have encountered feature the same deep, ladle-like, fluted bowl with a distinctive shelf just prior to the junction with the handle. Thomas Chawner was one of the most important spoonmakers of the 18th century and master to many of the other silversmiths on this list. A single ladle-like spoon with plain bowl, Onslow terminal and feather edge border (A4) is unclearly marked with what appears to part of the W/TC/C mark with just the two “C”’s displayed. If correct, this would suggest that the Chawner brothers were possibly the instigators, or at least first serious producers, of the caddy spoon. This same spoon is illustrated as Norie plate 1c. Norie describes Thomas Chawner as “the father of caddy spoon makers”.

The TH script makers mark has been the most frustrating to find a positive attribution. The mark most closely resembles that of Thomas Heming, especially the style of the script lettering “TH” in his crowned mark (Grimwade 3828), but these marks would all have appeared in the missing register. Thomas Heming was one of the most accomplished plate worker silversmiths of the period with royal patronage and it seems a little far-fetched to think that he would produce something so trifling as a caddy spoon.

However, further research has provided a potentially important clue: his son George was apprenticed to him from 1763 to 1770 and later worked in partnership with William Chawner from 1773 to 1781, working from his father’s old workshop in New Bond Street. This proves that there was a close connection between the Chawners and the Hemings and it may well be that the Chawners as specialist spoonmakers, supplied Thomas Heming with caddy spoons to satisfy the needs of his clientele, but he struck his own mark.

Figure 17 Feather-Edge Caddy Spoons by TH

Figure 17 shows four caddy spoons marked with the “TH” maker’s mark. All four have fluted, ladle-shaped bowl with a simple Old English Feather Edge design handle – the similarity to the Chawner spoons is apparent. The spoon to the left is monogrammed and the spoon to the right is crested, suggesting a more wealthy customer. These are likely to date between 1770 and 1774.

The plain Old English caddy ladle shown in figure 1 as A2 bears a more elaborate “TH” mark and this is likely to be an even earlier mark for Thomas Heming.

William Brockwell was a prolific maker of caddy spoons and as can be seen by the Onslow style caddy spoon in figure 1 (A3), even at this early date two of his trademark design features,  a trifucated handle and a deep bowl with waisted shape, are featured. The unattributed W.B, shown as Norie Plate 2e can be confidently ascribed to him. His son John entered his IB mark in 1794 and although less of his caddy spoons survive, some have been also seen to  portray these characteristics. The retirement dates of William Brockwell are unknown, although I don’t recall seeing any of his caddy spoons dating from the 19th century.

William Eley & George Pierrepoint entered their joint mark in November 1777 and were working throughout the majority of 1778 before terminating the partnership. Any spoons bearing their mark can therefore be accurately placed within this 12 month time span.

W.H markWilliam How. Grimwade shows three potential silversmiths that were initialled WH and were working during the 1770’s – William Harrison I from 1767 (Grimwade 3159), William How from 1771 (3160) & William Holmes from 1776 (3161). The mark on the caddy spoon is most akin to that of William How and without any further help from each man’s biography, and despite him being classified as bucklemaker (George Smith II is likewise classified thus), he at present seems the most likely candidate.

W.T mark – William Turton used two very similar marks entered in 1773/80, however this maker is not known to have produced caddy spoons and none are known from his partnership with William Wallbancke (1784-86), which would have been readily identifiable. Walter Tweedie however registered a mark as spoonmaker in 1775 and Grimwade recognises that there is likely an earlier mark too within the missing registers.

In addition to the above, Norie in Appendix 1 (pages 253 to 262) attempt to list all known makers of London-made silver caddy spoons. There are makers in his list that are additional to the above, but of which no illustrations can be found:

Charles Aldridge and Henry Green – this partnership made small items of hollowware such as cream pails, baskets and mustard pots. The fact that they included tea caddies in their line, does not make it too far a stretch to imagine that they also made or supplied caddy spoons too.

Charles Chesterman – this attribution may well be a misreading of a poorly struck version of the TC/WC. In figure 1, caddy spoon A4 was originally attributed to Chesterman as only the two C’s are visible. Despite this, Chesterman is known to have made silver tea caddies, so as with the above partnership, he may well have included caddy spoons among his repertoire.

George Powell – according to Grimwade he entered a smallworkers mark in 1771 and was still working by 1773, but this is not a silversmith that I either recognise or have previously encountered.

George Rodenbostel – this seems a very unlikely maker of caddy spoons. According to Grimwade Rodenbostel was recorded as declaring his trade in 1780 as a “French horn maker”!

Stephen Adams I – he was a prolific spoonmaker and certainly made caddy spoons later in the 18th century. Entering his first solo mark in 1760, he was working until circa 1790 and so there is a likelihood that some pre-1781 caddy spoons will bear his mark.

Samuel Moulton or Samuel Meriton II – the SM mark is most commonly seen on sweet baskets and other small hollowware, plus boxes such as nutmeg graters and is generally accepted to be that of Samuel Meriton II. Meriton was working from 1775 until no later than 1800 when he died. Samuel Moulton is not so well known as a silversmith but with his first mark entered in 1772 as a smallworker and working as a bucklemaker until at least 1788, it is plausible that he also made caddy spoons. These two SM marks are shown in Grimwade as reference 2591 and 2592 and although similar, Moulton’s mark includes a pellet between and reads S.M.

Thomas Daniell – Norie illustrates a caddy spoon as plate 3c and attributes the maker as Thomas Daniell who was working between 1771 and 1793 (Grimwade 2727-2729). No other examples by this maker have come to light.

WL – Norie provides no contenders for this mark and there are a multitude of WL makers illustrated in Grimwade. William Lestourgeon is a known maker, both alone and in combination with his brother Aaron, of small hollowware such as bougie boxes and wax jacks. It is possible that he made caddy spoons, but it is also conceivable that the mark was misread and with no further evidence, remains a mere possibility.

Conclusion

It can be seen that an explosion of caddy spoon production took place circa 1770 soon after the invention of Pickering’s new stamping press and coincided with the pinnacle of the afternoon tea ceremony.

Existing spoonmakers such as the Chawners were quickest to react to the new phenomenon, and other specialist caddy spoon makers soon joined the fray. Plain and simple caddy spoons were soon embellished and as the 1770’s progressed more inventive and ornate examples made their entrance.

From illustrated examples and our own database of caddy spoons sold, the most prolific makers of caddy spoons during the first decade of production were Thomas Heming, George Smith III, Hester Bateman and William Brockwell. Judging from the appearance of specific trademark spoons found with other maker’s marks, it would seem that both William Brockwell and the Chawners were supplying caddy spoons to retailers (e.g. Thomas Heming) and other silversmiths who perhaps lacked the tooling, but still had demand from their clientele.

The line of spoonmakers starting their careers as apprentices within the Chawner workshop, which included George Smith III and William Sumner, also embraced caddy spoon manufacture. As the 1770’s progressed, the Bateman workshop began to produce good quantities and were to became a major force during the 1780’s and 90’s.

Of the additional early caddy spoon makers suggested by Norie, the most likely to be missing from evidential examples within this study is Stephen Adams I, however I would be interested to learn of other examples that do exist to add them to this register and would be pleased to receive details.

 

Gary Bottomley

Link to caddy spoons offered for sale on this website.