Isn't it strange how one thought can lead to things you've never thought about before. Last night we were up at the folkclub to see Pete Coe, but before he came on to perform they had the open floor spots. One member regularly plays on his banjo and he's accompanied by another chap playing the spoons. Now it looks simple, but looks can be deceiving and I suspect that it takes more skill than one would imagine to play them as well as he does. That then got me thinking about the humble spoon...an everyday object that I pay absolutely no attention to yet I use every day in some form or other. In the last day alone we've used spoons for stirring, measuring, eating liquds and solids and digging out the coffee grounds for the compost bin.
It turns out spoons in their various forms have been with us for a very long time. I saw these Iron Age ones in the museum in Lewes a few months ago which have survived because of them having been made out of pottery. You can still see the maker's thumbprint in the bowl. Nobody knows what their function was, but it's thought it was unlikely for eating as their design doesn't seem to lend itself to that. They've been made of all sorts throughout history from shell and wood to bone and different metals. I've got one made of horn.
The word spoon is derived from the Anglo Saxon word 'spon' meaning splinter or chip of wood and their use has varied. I've seen the tiny ones used as the Romans as ear scoops for the removal of wax and the now very collectable Apostle spoons were given as christening gifts by the Tudors. A silver one dating from 1490 sold at auction for £36,700 in 1993. Being "born with a silver spoon in your mouth" is a familiar phrase denoting your wealthy status from birth and come the crowning of King Charles III in May the Medieval coronation spoon will be pressed into action when it comes to the anointing of him.
Sometimes spoons just offer fun. Anyone who has enjoyed the fabulously imaginative words of Edward Lear will have wondered perhaps what was that runcible spoon in the "Owl and the Pussycat". I'm sorry to disappoint you, but it means nothing at all. It was a nonsense word invented by Lear...another piece of his whimsy. [the pub is in Rye]