Among the more interesting collectible items that come into the store are sterling silver souvenir spoons. These were widely collected around the turn of the 20th century by tourists across America. Silver souvenir spoons first gained popularity in Europe in the 19th century with place names engraved with fanciful images or motifs for the big sights. The first spoons in the United States were made in 1890 by Galf & Bros of Washington DC. The 1892-3 Columbian Expo in Chicago advanced the popularity of these spoons as tourist trinkets when thousands of visitors brought home imagery from the fair on keepsake silver (and copper) spoons.
Soon all the major tourist attractions in the west and many back east began producing these spoons for purchase at gift shops. Some are quite common, while others are exceedingly rare. We most commonly see these spoons from 1892-1920, with the height of the market around 1900. With the advent of plastics and cheaper materials for the tourist trade, the souvenir spoon in silver did not last past WWII, though it is easy enough to find mass produced base metal spoons along with the ubiquitous glass shot glasses in souvenir shops to this day.
What makes these early pieces so collectible is the wonderful detail and artistry that went into each specific spoon. Often competing shops would make different spoons for the same attraction or change up the design on a regular basis to keep repeat visitors in the silver spoon market.
We recently purchased about 50 of these old pieces, so keep an eye out on our eBay store for new listings in the next week or so.