General Information

Sample articles/extracts from Newsletters

Gallery pics

Recommended further reading

Links to useful sites

Sample articles/extracts from Newsletters

Cocks & Bettridge.

Anyone who collects Caddy Spoons will have come across Cocks & Bettridge. Can anyone reveal the identity of Cocks? We know that Bettridge was John Bettridge who registered as 'late of Cocks & Bettridge', but nowhere is the identity of his partner recorded. A member of the Society is presently researching this and other makers and is requesting your help. Replies via the contact on this site please.

Forest & Wardell.

Whilst researching the silversmiths making caddy spoons in Birmingham, I came upon this conundrum. All the reference works used show Forest and Wasdell, the Birmingham Assay Office site showed Forest and Wardell. This was queried with the Assay Office, but the passage of 200 years, damp storage conditions and poor handwriting meant that one could not be certain: 'Wardell' or 'Wasdell'.

The London Gazette of 1803 15569 Page 337, refers to the the partnership between Alexander Forest the Younger and William Wardell of Birmingham being dissolved, the business in future to be carried out by Wardell & Co. This puts a new light on things - the reference books were wrong and Assay Office records correct. Wardell was registered in Birmingham, before the known dates, even so the W in a circle is an unregistered mark.

Another Lady Silversmith?

This is a shortened version of an article from our Newsletter 2011. …..

The Society merits the title, ‘The Friends of Autolycus’ who you will all remember as the “Picker-up of unconsidered trifles’ in The Winters Tale

I found after some years that my collection of unconsidered trifles included a group of spoons with the initials SB IB. Research in Grimwade revealed they belong to another mother and son, Sarah Blake and John Blake, almost certainly the widow and son of a London maker John Blake. They entered their joint mark in 1809 following the death of John Blake Senior.

It is fascinating but fruitless to speculate whether Sarah Blake followed the career of Joseph Taylor of Birmingham who rocketed to success, and profit, as a caddy spoon maker, or whether his introduction of simulated filigree caddy spoons in 1808 caused the Blake’s to widen their catalogue in 1809. Possibly the son John was the maker and thought as ungrateful sons do, that his father was not adventurous enough or did not agree with his aesthetic sense.

An unspoken question is whether these long stemmed spoons were designed to transfer tea or Dundee marmalade at the late Georgian or Regency breakfast table. Whatever the position, they chose to produce a more sophisticated group of spoons, and moved the firm from the routine to a slightly more ambitious place among their peers.

The firm adds a worthy name to the list of Lady Silversmiths.

It is a matter for conjecture whether Alice Burrow and Sarah Blake were delegated to keep the books by their husbands and retained that job after their husbands died.

It is perfectly possible that neither of them ever approached a work bench to fashion a spoon, and that as was probably the case with Hester Bateman, they made themselves chief executive officer. It is impossible to prepare a list of working Lady Silversmiths, and we can only guess that it would be shorter than that of the names put forward by Erie Delieb and John Norie, in early 1970.
 

Tea and the Caddy Spoon

Tea – comes in tea-bags, doesn’t it?  Some OK some not so OK, but always quick ‘n easy and quite nice after a long day’s commuting.

It’s hard to believe now, but tea, when it first arrived in any quantities in Georgian England, was a luxury commodity, commanding very high prices.  It was grown on plantations in China, India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), transported across the oceans, and sold in small quantities by specialist importers.  Its trade was a monopoly of the East India Company, and high taxes - 119% until 1784 - made it even more prohibitively expensive.  In households that could afford it, tea was kept in a locked caddy, along with almost equally precious sugar, and the lady of the house kept the key.

Tea drinking became almost a ritual.  The beautifully crafted caddies were often made from expensive and rare woods or valuable hand painted porcelain.  The tea was brewed at the tea table, poured from silver tea pots, and drunk from delicate bowls or cups also made from fine porcelain or the new ‘bone china’. It was a privilege of the rich, and these costly items added to the mystique of tea.  All are now regarded as highly collectable antiques and command high prices.  

The caddy spoon, at first a practical tool for measuring the tea into the teapot, became, by the late eighteenth century, an equally expensive and covetable item, usually made from silver or Old Sheffield Plate, but sometimes from crystal, glass, wood, porcelain or bone.  As gifts caddy spoons were ideal, as they could be of any pattern, and did not have to match the silver cutlery on the table.  They were produced to commission in varying designs, often created by the leading silversmiths of the day.  Gradually they became affordable to the growing middle classes, and their design and methods of production evolved to reflect the social and economic changes taking place in Victorian England.  

As tea became cheaper and more available to the working classes caddy spoons were produced in base metals, chrome, brass, tin or silver plate.  By the twentieth century, they were often given away as promotional items for shops and businesses.  Spoons joined the growing list of Royal commemoratives; souvenir spoons were produced in their thousands as the workers won more free time and railways allowed access to holiday resorts such as Blackpool and Southend.  At the same time, high-end spoons were still being produced in the spirit of the Arts and Craft movement, a reaction to the mass production methods fast gaining ground in the nineteenth century.  

Right up to spoons produced in the present day, a wide range of qualities can be found, from individual commissions of collectors’ items to nicely-designed practical spoons for use in the kitchen.  Tea bags are here to stay, but the renewed interest in ‘real’ tea, fostered by specialist shops and availability direct from importers over the internet, means the caddy spoon’s day is far from over.

As a collectable, the caddy spoon gives great scope to specialise in different areas:  makers, styles, materials, times – or just by appealing to the individual collector’s aesthetic preferences.     Prices can range from a few pennies to thousands of pounds.  We hope this website helps further knowledge and interest in these intriguing little objects, and encourages others to join us in their collection and study.

The First Jockey Cap?

I recently acquired the Jockey Cap caddy spoon produced by Joseph Taylor (‘IT’) pictured in Gallery.  There are three things about it that are different from the other Jockey Cap caddy spoons produced by IT.  First, it is plain and completely devoid of any bright-cutting or engraving.  Second, the hallmarks are underneath the top of the bill (peak)  rather than on the inside of the crown.  Lastly, it is slightly smaller, especially the bill/peak.  
 
The Birmingham assay letter (a capital Z) shows that it was assayed in 1797.  The punch used for the duty mark (Figure 3 on page 44 of Jackson) shows the double duty was paid.  This means this spoon was assayed after July 5, 1797.  When the spoon was actually produced is a question that cannot be determined.
 
The question posed by this example is: Was it the prototype for later Jockey Caps produced by IT?  If so, Capt. Norie would refer to it as "currently unique" as he was fond of saying.  He notes in his definitive work on caddy spoons that IT was the originator of the Jockey Cap form.  In his Illustrated Supplement (Page 4), he suggests a Smith & Fearn caddy spoon dated 1787 may have been the form that was later modified to become the Jockey Cap as it has become known.  That spoon sold as Lot 371 in the Norie II Sale.

I am interested in knowing if any of the members of the Society possess an IT Jockey Cap that was assayed prior to July 6, 1797.  If there are none, then the question mark in the title of this article could possibly be deleted.

Matthew Boulton

In the picture gallery you will find a picture of an newly purchased spoon, in Old Sheffield Plate by Matthew Boulton, there are very few known caddy spoons by this well known silversmith, John Norie knew of one in silver dated 1787, there was one OSP exhibited in Birmingham at the Boulton Exhibition a few years back. There may be many more Sheffield Plate examples out there but owners are not recognising them as they are unmarked, the distinguishing mark is the line of feathers on the handle. Another turned up as part of lot Number 218 at Lawrences sale on 8th October 2019, another is part of a lot being sold on 14th to 15th November 2019, I will leave it for you to identify the Auction House.


Recommended further reading

Caddy Spoons – an illustrated guide  -  John Norie

Caddy Spoons of the 20th Century, The Society of Caddy Spoon Collectors, Price £5 plus postage, via the enquiry button.

The Story of the Caddy Spoon 1775 to 2015. The Society of Caddy Spoon Collectors. - available through this site at £5 plus postage. Go to Enquiry button.

Silver Boxes  -  Eric Delieb

Jackson’s Hallmarks – there is a useful Pocket Edition but the full version is of more interest to the serious collector

All the above are essential works of reference.

Chaffers’ Handbook to Hall Marks, revised by Cyril G Bunt is a useful supplement to Jackson’s

English Silver – Judith Banister contains useful descriptions of styles and techniques


Links to useful sites

New Book on Caddy Spoons. "The Story of the Caddy Spoon C.1775 to 2015". .
This 100 page book gives colour photographs of the 600 plus Caddy Spoons exhibited as well as further information.
This book is available at £5 plus P & P through the Society by using the enquiry facility.


www.theassayoffice.co.uk

www.silvermakersmarks.co.uk
 

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