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Set of silver 'apostle' spoons

Two spoons from the set

  • Three spoons from the set

    Three spoons from the set

 

Length: 19.500 cm (approx.)

Purchased with the aid of a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund

M&ME 1981,7-1,1-13

Room 46: Europe 1400-1800

    Set of silver 'apostle' spoons

    From London, England, AD 1536-37

    The bowls of each engraved with the sacred monogram 'IHS' for Jesus

    The top of each handle is modelled with a figure of one of Christ's Apostles. Sometimes the spoons were made in sets of thirteen, one for each of the twelve apostles and the thirteenth with the figure of Christ. This set has a figure of the Virgin Mary on the thirteenth spoon. The Apostles are: St Peter, St John, St James the Greater, St James the Less, St Thomas, St Matthew, St Matthias, St Bartholomew, St Jude and St Paul. This set is one of only two sets of early Tudor Apostle spoons made by a single maker to have survived complete.

    In England in the sixteenth century wealthy gentry and merchants could afford to have silver items for their personal use. These would include domestic pieces for dining, such as spoons, flagons and cups, as well as items for religious use, such as chalices and patens. Some dining silver was decorated with religious motifs and inscriptions; Apostle spoons symbolize the Last Supper of Christ in the company of the Apostles. Apostle spoons were especially popular in England, but were also found in large numbers in Germany.

    T. Wilson, 'Spoons with a taste of history', British Museum Society Bulleti, 46 (July 1984), pp. 24-26

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    On display: Room 46: Europe 1400-1800

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