Wedding Spoon with Chain
Delicately carved, this rare decorative spoon is a marvel of skill and craftsmanship. The shallow bowl of the spoon, with a slight ridge on the reverse, extends into a short handle convincingly formed into the shape of a loop of string tied into a knot which unites the spoon to two chain links. Originally it would have been part of a longer chain with a counterpart spoon or pendant at the opposite end - all ingeniously carved from a single piece of fruitwood.
Purely decorative, this spoon comes from the tradition of the Wedding Spoon, or Love Spoon, found in Germany and other regions of Western Europe. It was most likely given as a wedding or anniversary gift, with the chains symbolizing the union of the wedding couple. Indeed, the traditional fifth-anniversary gift of wood continues to be celebrated in Western Europe. A comparable seventeenth-century set of Wedding Spoons with 37 chain links is found in the Royal Treasury of Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen (figure 1, inv. no. 25-860; see Hein 2009). A more elaborate set is found in Hamburg (figure 2, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, inv. no. 1874.18; see Heitmann and Boerner 2007), here with fantastic human and hybrid figures decorating the spoon yet sharing the complicated chain carved from a single piece of wood.
For comparisons see:
Hein, J. The Treasure Collection at Rosenborg Castle III, Copenhagen, 2009, v. 3, p. 155, cat. no. 851.
Heitmann, B., and C. Boerner, Historische Bestecke aus der Sammlung des Museums für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Hamburg, 2007, p. 44 and pp. 184-185, cat. no. 34.