Are you a spooner? If you have a secret stash of spoons you never use, embossed, enameled, or engraved with the names or depictions of places you have visited only once, then you probably are. But don't let those utensils languish in your kitchen's junk drawer. What you need is a spoon rack, so you can show off your passion for concave keepsakes.

In the United States, the heyday of souvenir spoons was the late 19th and early 20th centuries. That was also a golden age for traveling salesmen, who'd return home from their journeys laden with spoons touting everything from natural wonders to civic landmarks to famous native sons and daughters. Sometimes only a spoon's handle was decorated, while other spoons also featured chased or sculpted bowls and stems. Most desired were spoons whose stems and handles had been transformed into figures or objects, such as a stem shaped like the Statue of Liberty or a handle that looked like a log cabin, making it an advertisement for maple syrup.

In fact, advertising spoons were widely collected, mostly because their sponsorship made them cheap, if not free. Religious spoons were also popular—one set of 13 featured Christ and his 12 Apostles. And then there were spoons whose basic designs were customized for different locales. For example, a popular sterling silver spoon of the day featured an enamel painting of cotton pickers in the spoon's bowl, which was purported to be a scene from Dallas or Memphis, depending on where the spoon was purchased. Other sterling silver spoons were produced by major manufacturers, from Gorham to Tiffany.

Finally, and in a collecting class all their own, are world's fair spoons, such as those produced for the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893 and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915.


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