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Christening Spoons

Antique Silver Christening Spoons

In many religions, the christening of a baby is an extremely important occasion and one marked with a good deal of ceremony and hope for the future. It’s the moment shortly after birth where a child is named before their God and welcomed into the church as a newborn.

Many faiths have their own form of christening and celebration, but all these occasions tend to involve buying a gift for the new child. In many cases, this is a silver artefact or nicknack such as a spoon, box or bookmark.

The History of Silver Christening Spoons

There is a rich history for gifting silver christening spoons and it stretches back to Medieval times, perhaps even before then. The original reason for this was not because silver was a valuable metal but because it could help ward off evil and protect the child. The spoon later became a way to wish a child health and prosperity for the future and was highly symbolic.

As silver became a more valuable commodity, its gifting was more generally seen as a matter of prestige. It said something about your status in life and who you were. This is where the phrase ‘born with a silver spoon in their mouth’ came from, with all its negative connotations.

Today, giving a silver christening spoon remains part of the tradition and is usually given by a close family member such as a godfather or mother, brother or sister. The spoon can vary in design from the very ornate to a simple motif but it is normally engraved with the initials of the recipient child.

Antique vs Vintage vs New Silver Christening Spoons

There are lots of options out there when you consider buying a christening spoon for a child and it can be a little confusing. Antique spoons relate to those which are over 100 years old, vintage tends to be after this (for example, anything made from 1920 to the end of the century). New silver christening spoons are also available in various designs and can be a great choice.

The benefit of buying an antique silver christening spoon is that it also comes with a good deal of provenance. Age and design add value to the spoon which makes it a solid investment for the future of the child. Another option is not just to buy the christening spoon but a complete set (usually a knife, fork and spoon) in an attractive presentation case.

It’s important to invest in a solid silver spoon that has the right hallmarks if you want to give a memorable gift that grows in value over the years. Check out our guide to silver hallmarks here.

Types of Christening Spoon

When choosing an antique christening spoon or a new one, another important consideration is the design. This can vary considerably and a lot will depend on your preference. You can get very elegant and very plain silver spoons which are perfect as a gift. Others will have a design on the handle, and then there are those which are a lot more ornate.  

What are Apostle Spoons?

Apostle spoons are probably some of the most intricate as they have the handle designed in the image of a saint or apostle. These weren’t originally meant for christenings, however. They developed in the early 15th century in many places in Europe and were often produced in sets of 13 (representing Jesus and the 12 apostles). These sets are very rare today and they can fetch a lot of money at auction.

It wasn’t until around the 16th century that apostle spoons became associated with christenings and baptism. The tradition of giving these spoons carried on in many places until the middle of the 20th century but are less popular nowadays. Single apostle spoons can represent various saints and these include Saint Jude and St Bartholomew, making them a great option for a christening if you can get your hands on one.

Find out more about apostle spoons here.

Tips for Buying Antique Christening Spoons

Because of the history and tradition that surrounds silver christening spoons, it’s important to get it right if you are buying one for a newly arrived baby. It’s a good idea to discuss the options with the parents and ask what sort of design they might be looking for.

1. Choose a Reputable Dealer

Whether you’re buying a new or antique silver christening spoon, there’s no substitute for dealing with a company that has a got a strong track record and knows what they are talking about.

At Edinburgh Silver, we’ve got a proven history of selling antique, vintage and newly crafted items, including the traditional christening spoon. Our team is always on hand to advise if you need it.

2. The Hallmark is Important

In identifying solid silver artefacts, the most important thing to look for is the hallmark. There should be four or five stamps that show when the spoon was made, who made it and where. Without these marks, it’s likely that your potential purchase is not solid silver but probably plate or an imitation. This is usually a big challenge when buying online which is why we always advise using a professional silversmith.

3. The Condition of the Silver

If you are buying antique or vintage, it’s also important to look at the condition of the piece up close before you buy. At Edinburgh Silver, we put a lot of work into renovating and restoring older silver items so that they are ready to buy.

The purity of the silver is also critical. This is usually shown through the hallmark. Fine silver is 99.9% pure but a lot rarer. The most common is sterling silver which is 92.5% pure.

4. Look at Different Designs

Aesthetic value is also important when buying antique silver christening spoons. The designs range from very simple to extremely ornate and intricate. This can affect the value, of course, but a lot is down to personal taste. That’s why it’s often a good idea to talk through the choice with the parents if you are buying for them.

Should I Engrave the Silver Christening Spoon?

It’s typical to engrave the spoon with the child’s initials but this is not written in stone. Again, discuss this with the recipients beforehand. They can always have the spoon engraved at a later date if they are unsure.

You can explore a wide range of styles and designs for antique christening spoons, as well as new and vintage ones, on our website. Click here for more details.

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