In 2004 I was asked to create photographs for a book about collectible, sterling silver spoons made between the years 1890-1941. Rather than go down the traditional, boring road -- shooting photos of metal spoons on black velvet -- I decided to make a series of photo illustrations appropriate for a coffee-table type book.
The results are a series of photographs which feature not just collectible spoons, but related artifacts or environments. Some photos contain the original photo postcards which inspired the silver manufacturers of the day; others contain jewelry and ephemera from the West of days gone by.
Special thanks to Wayne Bednersh, Carol Hyland, Andrew Kwiat, Lee and Trudy Geer, Lynn Randall and other collectors who generously supplied spoons for this project.
Due to some problems with the publisher, the release date of the book is now uncertain. Know anyone who wants to publish a neat book? Contact me.
Want to be contacted when the book is published? Contact me by sending an email to: eyeballoverload*aol.com (substitute an '@' in place of the '*' when writing).
The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 is remembered as the high water mark of the "spoon craze". Hundreds of designs were produced to commemorate the event including this enameled piece, which was probably made in Europe. The craze must have made an impression on Fred Harvey, whose company had an exhibit at the fair. Spoons would eventually be sold throughout his empire. ©2005 Nick T. Spark.
These double- sided figural spoons show a terrific level of talent and skill on the part of the artisan who designed them. The upper piece, made by the National Silver Co., depicts an Indian with a spear and tomahawk, and his squaw and papoose adorn the reverse along with a monogram. The spoon on the lower right features a detailed image of the Alvarado Hotel, and was likely purchased there in the early 1900s. More double-sided spoons. Watson's "On the Range" and "Out West" have gunfighters,their Colts stillsmoking, on the frontside. While"Out West" has a pastoral scene on the back, the rear of the "Range" spoon shows outlaws shooting up a defenseless Silvertown. ©2005 Nick T. Spark
The inspiration for the figural handles seen in early Navajo spoons was likely U.S. coinage, which often featured native profiles. ©2005.
The towering Santa Fe Railroad bridge at Diablo Canyon was beautifully rendered by a designer at Mechanics Silver. The train-on-the-handle design also appears on several other spoons from this era. Another of the great engineering feats of the early 20th Century, the five-mile-long Gunnison irrigation tunnel changed Colorado forever when it opened in 1909. ©2005.
Geronimo, the one-time supreme enemy of the United States, finally laid down his arms in 1886. He soon became a celebrity, and even rode in Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural parade in 1905. The hand-engraved portrait on this spoon is striking, and one of the best examples of its kind. ©2005 Nick T. Spark
Likely dating from about 1900, these Navajo profile spoons are some of the most intriguing and desirable to collectors. While full of character and charm, cartoon-like figures like these apparently stopped being made around 1910, either because the public or the Navajo smiths themselves rejected this type of design. ©2005 Nick T. Spark
Abundant in shapes, sizes and types, Navajo utensils seem perfectly at home in the desert. ©2005 Nick T. Spark
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