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Monkey Spoon

The Spoon Museum has a wonderful entry on "Monkey Spoons," a type of unusual spoon used by the Dutch settler in the New York/Hudson River area to commemorate birth, marriage, and death:

The English and some continental societies placed a great emphasis on births. The occasion of a birth was a blessed event and parties and gatherings were held. Prosperous citizens would often give an apostle spoon to new born babies at the time of their christening. The silver spoons bore the image of an apostle as the finial. The hope was that the baby would observe this finial every time it was fed. One spoon was often used by a person for their entire life. The phrase to "be born with a silver spoon" stems from this practice.

But the Dutch settlers of the Hudson Valley region were not as religious as other groups and they did not place the same emphasis on births. Instead they place greater emphasis on marriage and a very heavy emphasis on death. They did, however, adapt the concept of using a spoon to symbolize these important life transitions.

But where did the term "Monkey Spoon" comes from?

That is a good question, and no one knows for sure. Several hypotheses have been made and you are free to accept the one that suits you.

1. Since the monkey spoons all have a hook on the stem and they hang by that hook, it would "look like a monkey hanging by its tail" (my favorite).

2. Most monkey spoons have a small figural emblem on the high part of the curve. I haven't seen any that look like a monkey (Some later reproductions supposedly had a monkey as a word play on the name), but there is one style that is very hard to figure out. Some people see a "monkey" in this figure.

3. When people drink too much they often act strangely. In Dutch the term "zuiging the monkey" is a reference to drunkeness.

Take your choice. There is no "wrong" answer.

Link - via Lisa Rogak, Thanks Stefanie Hutson!


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I use mine as a tea caddy spoon. It is just lovely and the right size for a teapot.It is so much fun to find out what all these various beautifully crafted pieces were intended to be used for.
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