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History of the Puritan Spoon

What Is a Puritan Spoon?

The Puritan spoon, also known as the stump top spoon, was first created during the 1630s. Notable for its lack of decoration, the puritan spoon features a shallow bowl which tapers to one end in an egg shape. The stem of a puritan spoon is flat and equally unembellished, and there was no knop at the end of the stem which could be decorated – differentiating it from the ficulate spoon which had come before.

The History of Puritan Spoons

When the Puritans established the Commonwealth in the aftermath of Charles I’s execution, they set about creating many daily goods in the style to which they professed most Holy. Puritans, following the Protestant faith, believed that purity was essential for a truly Godly life, and despised what was deemed as ‘unnecessary’ decoration. For this reason, the Puritan spoon was created to replace the ficulate spoon.

Puritan silver spoons, although plain, were usually surprisingly dense with weight. This was because civilians were frequently called upon to offer up their silver as payment for any given township’s defence against invasion. Cutlery, however, was considered as an essential, and was exempt from this demand. Therefore, owning a weighty silver spoon was an efficient way of ensuring the family has silver within its ownership.

The Commonwealth period was only short-lived, existing a mere eleven years, and the Puritan spoon style was replaced as rapidly as it had been created. Despite the widespread existence and use of Puritan spoons, it is rare to find one today. This is because a significant amount of silver was melted down in the aftermath of the English Civil War. The density of the silver used in Puritan spoons, in addition to the total lack of embellishment, made them more appealing for repurposing than their more intricate contemporaries.

    puritan spoon historyAberdeen Art Gallery, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Silver Puritan Spoons

Puritan spoons were made almost entirely from silver to ensure that the family had something of value that couldn’t be confiscated by authorities as a form of taxation. For this reason, existing Puritan spoons today are usually worth a moderate amount, as they contain more silver than typical antique spoons of the same size.

It is a challenge, however, to find genuine Puritan spoons from the Commonwealth era today, since so much silver has been melted down and repurposed in the nearly-400 years since this time period. While silver Puritan spoons are not especially beautiful, particularly when compared to other more decorative antique spoons, they have a certain appeal due to their history and association with the infamous religious sect.

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