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Spoons, spoons, so many spoons: a deep dive into an ordinary collection

Have you ever explored our online database of artifacts? What kinds of artifacts would you search for? For fun, we recently searched the spoon collection at the WDM in our database. Did you know if you type “spoon” into the database you get over 350 results! That is a whole lot of spoons. Now, why would a museum need so many spoons in its collection? Simply put, there are many types of spoons for a wide array of uses. Spoons have also been made from every material known to humankind. Spoons, besides just being utensils, can also be found as measuring devices, toys, advertisements, art works and memorabilia, just to name a few.  

A little history on the spoon. Spoons are one of the oldest serving utensils known to exist, along with chopsticks and knives. Some of the earliest surviving spoons date back to the Ozieri culture, in what is now Sardinia, that date to 3200 to 2800 BCEForks were not a common utensil until the 18th century.   

Spoons have permeated everyday culture. Spoons are referenced 24 times in the Bible. There is the Allegory of the long spoons which is all about how people treat each other. There are folklore beliefs about spoons, such as the Ukrainian Christmas Eve folklore of throwing a spoonful of kutia,’ which is porridge-like dish made of boiled wheat, poppy seeds, dried fruits and nuts to the ceiling. If the kutia sticks, you will have a good and prosperous new year. Spoons have also become a way to explain mental and/or physical energy levels for those with disabilities or chronic health problems. 

Take a look at the variety of some of the spoons and spoon related items in the WDM’s collection!  Do any of these make you think of a spoon that has a special place in your memory? 

  • Ellen & Warren Rotzien from Rose Valley area owned this adorable glass saltcellar in the shape of a parrot. The spoon was used to add more salt into the cellar which meant removing the parrot’s head in order to refill the salt. WDM-2000-NB-61.3.a-c

  • This cut-glass spoon was used for mustard. There would have been a matching dish with a lid to go alongside the spoon when used serving mustard. This is a far cry from the squeeze bottles we use for serving mustard today. WDM-1973-NB-1459

  • A painted red wooden round handle on nickel plated mixing spoon. WDM-1973-NB-4436

  • This plump little chef is a coin bank. He was a mascot for Magic Chef Inc., which was a gas stove company. He is holding one of smallest spoon in the WDM collection measuring in at roughly three centimetres. WDM-2004-S-1088

  • Measuring spoons have become a staple in any kitchen. These ones are plastic, and each measurement is a different colour (Yellow - 1 tablespoon, Green - 1 teaspoon, White - 1/2 teaspoon and red - 1/4 teaspoon). These ones were likely received through a promotion from Blue Ribbon Manufacturing Company, which is best known for their baking powder and tea. WDM-1995-S-1346

  • Spoons have always been a plaything for children from banging on pots and pans to having tea parties. The WDM has a toy breakfast set that consists of small metal plates, metal spoons, wooden eggs and wooden egg cups. Judging by the image on the box, this was only part of a larger collection of kitchen playthings. Toys like this were made in part to help prepare a young girl for her often-assumed role as a housewife in the early 20th century. WDM-1995-S-1255.9.A-I

  • Collecting commemorative spoons was an incredibly popular hobby not too long ago. Much of the younger generations have memories of their grandparents proudly displaying commemorative spoons from special events and vacations. This commemorative spoon is from the Saskatchewan Tractor Pulling Association that was issued from the Prairieland Exhibition between 1982 and 1985. WDM-2001-S-79

  • This wooden spoon is hand craved in a Norwegian style. Simon Lehne a Norwegian immigration hand carved this spoon while living in Candle Lake, Saskatchewan. Simon started carving wooden spoons during the Great Depression initially as a way to pay off a $7.00 grocery bill but later to earn extra money during tough times. WDM-2016-S-49

  • This box of Kellogg’s Corn Chex cereal features an image of a large spoon containing the cereal, blueberries and milk. WDM-1990-S-251

  • This ear curette has a bent hook on one end and a small oval spoon on the other. This piece of medical equipment is used to remove ear wax and other debris from the patient’s ear. WDM-1973-S-4683

  • This metal spoon has been modified to have a larger plastic handle. Utensils are easily modified to allow for independence for those who may have face fine motor skill challenges. WDM-2019-S-49.6.e


By: Rheanna Costen
WDM Curatorial Intern



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