1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Spoon
SPOON (O. Eng. spōn, a chip or splinter of wood, cf. Du. spaan, Ger. Spahn, in same sense, probably related to Gr. σφήν, wedge), a table implement, bowl-shaped at the end, with a handle varying in length and size. From the derivation of the word the earliest northern European spoon would seem to have been a chip or splinter of wood; the Greek κοχλιάριον (Lat. cochleare) points to the early and natural use of shells, such as are still used by primitive peoples. Examples are preserved of the various forms of spoons used by the ancient Egyptians of ivory, flint, slate and wood, many of them carved with the symbols of their religion. The spoons of the Greeks and Romans were chiefly made of bronze and silver, and the handle usually takes the form of a spike or pointed stem. There are many examples in the British Museum from which the form of the various types can be ascertained, the chief points of difference being found in the junction of the bowl with the handle. Medieval spoons for domestic use were commonly made of horn or wood, but brass, pewter and " latten " spoons appear to have been common about the 15th century. The full descriptions and entries relating to silver spoons in the inventories of the royal and other households point to their special value and rarity. The earliest English reference appears to be in a will of 1259. In the wardrobe accounts of Edward I. for the year 1300 some gold and silver spoons marked with the fleur-de-lis, the Paris mark, are mentioned. One of the most interesting medieval spoons is the coronation spoon used in the anointing of the sovereign, an illustration of which is given under Regalia. The sets of spoons popular as christening presents in Tudor times, the handles of which terminate in heads or busts of the apostles, are a special form to which antiquarian interest attaches (see Apostle Spoons). The earlier English spoon-handles terminate in an acorn, plain knob or a diamond; at the end of the 16th century the baluster and seal ending becomes common, the bowl being " fig-shaped." At the Restoration the handle becomes broad and fiat, the bowl is broad and oval and the termination is cut into the shape known as the pied de niche, or hind's foot. In the first quarter of the 18th century the bowl becomes narrow and elliptical, with a tongue or " rat's tail " down the back, and the handle is turned up at the end. The modern form, with the tip of the bowl narrower than the base and the rounded end of the handle turned down, came into use about 1760.
See C. J. Jackson, " The Spoon and its History," in Archaeologia (1892), vol. liii.; also Cripps, Old English Plate.