Thursday, December 3, 2020

This Old Spoon

New England is rife with old stuff. Stuff was brought here. Stuff was made here. Paul Revere was an accomplished silversmith before becoming a Revolutionary War action figure.

Kitchens are a good place to start an antiques search. Sift past the Ikea merchandise to the tarnished and worn serving spoons. A magnifying glass should make it possible to read makers’ marks on the handles. Our drawer turned up a silver-plated serving spoon with a floral magnolia and daisy pattern up the handle. On the underside is “1847 ROGER BROS AL.” Did this mean the spoon was manufactured in 1847!!? As it turns out, Roger Bros was and still is a well-known manufacturer of flatware. The date in the brand is not date of manufacture, but rather the year Roger Bros invented and patented the process of electro-silverplating flatware. Further research found that the letters at the end of the logo changed from “AL” to “IS” in 1897, so the spoon in question is probably not from 1847, but is at least 114 years old. Valuable? Not so much..

Indian clubs, ranging from 1 to 7 pounds

Attics can be a virtual time machine. With any luck, you might turn up a pair of Indian clubs. To our twenty-first century eyes these all-wood items make us think of juggling clubs or stretched-out bowling pins. But Indian clubs were actually very popular exercise apparatus over one hundred years ago. Men, women and school children used these back in the late eighteen and early nineteen hundreds. Brand names included Spaulding and Wilson. A pair of clubs, weighing anywhere from one to seven pounds per club, was held one in each hand and waved about in carefully choreographed routines. Imagine a gym’s spin class, but instead of stationary bikes, the leaders and followers are vigorously swinging wooden clubs. Ouch! Ebay auctions find these selling at $30 to $100 per pair. A book, Indian Clubs, by Alice Hoffman, has great pictures.

Garages are also repositories of old. That hand saw, child’s sled, hay fork – how old? The refrigerator era did not start in earnest until after World War II. Prior to that, blocks of ice were cut, stored, shipped and delivered to homes. Ice tongs, blacksmiths’ work, ranged in size from two-handed monsters down to delicate one-handed devices. On-line prices range from $10 to $60.

Obviously, old is not always synonymous with valuable. Sometimes it is just old.  The website www.worthopedia .com is a useful resource, as is Ebay. Learning an item’s history will make it more interesting, regardless. And who knows? Maybe the Indian clubs you find will be imprinted with “S. Kehoe, Maker, New York.” Maybe the bottom of that tarnished silver cup will reveal “Revere.”

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