September 15, 2013

The Spoons That Made Me Cry

During the Great Depression, when people couldn't afford to eat, much less spend asinine amounts of money on wedding gifts, there was a touching tradition involving silverware. Someone would buy just one piece, and promise to buy one new piece per year for the bride until the set was complete.

These spoons, which are silver plate, not solid silver, span from 1930-1940. The fronts of the handles are engraved—the first spoon with her initial J, and the rest with her name, Jeanne (which, curiously, is spelled Jean on the 1931-1933 spoons). The backs are engraved with the years in which each one was bought.

My mom bought these for me at a flea market, and when she told me the history behind them, I must admit that my eyes welled up. I pictured Jeanne as a new bride, full of hope for the future even though she was smack at the beginning of a terrible time in our country, holding her one spoon. I thought about how she probably cherished her spoons and took great pride in setting them out when guests came over, and how happy she must have been when she completed the set 10 years later.

And Jeanne's beloved spoons ended up in a flea market. Somewhere along the way, someone didn't think her spoons mattered anymore and sold them, presumably when Jeanne died. But now I have them, and I can remember Jeanne and cherish her spoons for her, and hope she knows somehow and is happy.


  1. Those spoons put everything in perspective. I'm also glad Jeanne's spoons found you.

  2. This is why I love antiques. They were special to someone, once, and I always think about that. If they were handmade, they were special to the person who made them, too.