Sunday, February 17, 2013

Vintage Spoons For President's Day

Can a spoon teach American history?  Growing up, the dinner hour was family time, but also a moment to learn about our forefathers.  We set our table with these silver-plated Presidents Commemorative Spoon Collection and they were an endless source of fascination for my brothers and me.   
The collection includes 34 spoons each depicting one of the Presidents of the United States – from George Washington to John F. Kennedy.   Grover Cleveland was elected to two separate terms, but was only designed one spoon in the collection.
We believe our maternal grandmother Hilda began collecting the spoons for us, and at some point purchased the whole set.   They were offered through newspaper advertisements at some time during JFK’s presidency, and we all competed to use the spoon of the current president to eat our SpaghettiOs.   It’s amazing how an eating utensil conferred a sort of inside-the-beltway status. 
There is a portrait of each president at the tip of the spoon, and the bowl of the spoon contains a significant event or location connected to that president.   The George Washington spoon includes an etching of his estate on the Potomac, Mount Vernon.

The Abraham Lincoln spoon depicts an excerpt from the Gettysburg Address.  
The back of each spoon handle is labeled for the manufacturer, WM Rogers, and IS for the parent company, International Silver.   

I’m certain the spoons helped inspire a deep interest in American history and the leaders of our country.   Over time, I’ve visited Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, and we frequently visited Teddy Roosevelt’s “Summer White House,” Sagamore Hill on Long Island.    I’m hoping to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum during a visit to Springfield, Illinois later this year.  

Incidentally, with a little research, I learned that while we refer to the third Monday in February as “President’s Day” it is legally dubbed “Washington’s Birthday” by the Federal Government.   But, traditionally, the day honors George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and all who have held the office of President of the United States.  

©2013 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


John Barritt said...

Too bad they never made it to Nixon. [Sound of blustering jowels.]


Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I have a couple of sets of silver spoons (from demitasste to teaspoons) that a great aunt collected on her travels. How fun to compete to use the current President's spoon.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

It is nice that you have the collection from you grandmother and that it inspired your love of history.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Won't it be exciting when you can add the first female president to your spoon collection?

Kat said...

Another interesting story from you life. Thanks for sharing it with us. Love the spoon collection!

Gloria Baker said...

What beautiful and interesting collection of course I love Lincoln spoon; really beautu thanks for sharing!:)

Velva said...

What an interesting tradition. I know that these collection of spoons would have been the start of many interesting conversations at my dinner table.

I could not help smiling at John Barritt's comment-so true.


Deana Sidney said...

People just don't do this kind of collecting any more, what a pity. Having a little history with your oatmeal is a great way to get kids interested in history and silver... interest in both is waning terribly. Lots of kids don't know who Nixon was.

Barbara said...

Grandmother Hilda started a wonderful tradition, T.W. I fear many of our young don't know a thing about American history and geography. This was a super (and fun) way to learn.

Laura Luciano said...

Really enjoyed seeing these spoons and sharing your story. To this day, do you eat with an of the spoons?

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

John - rumor has it, there was a Richard Nixon spoon issued sometime after 1968. I'm hot on the trail ...

Lydia - I would gladly purchase that spoon!

Laura - I haven't eaten with the spoons in many years. They are in pristine condition, and I don't want to change that. But perhaps today I should set the table with Abraham Lincoln for lunch and George Washington for dinner?

Mary Bergfeld said...

What a wonderful collection T.W. That the spoons come with such special memories is an added plus. I hope that all is well. Blessings...Mary

Anonymous said...

What a cool & very stylish collection of these special spoons!
They look very special! I hope you have insured them well!

thanks so much for sharing! :)

Lori Lynn said...

Oh those spoons! What a treasure! I have been collecting Presidential china patterns over the past few year. Love Americana collectibles!

I think it is too bad that great presidents like Washington and Lincoln are now celebrated lumped together with all presidents, good or not. I prefer to celebrate their respective birthdays on the day they were born. My tribute to Lincoln here:

Super post T.W.!