Were pieces of flatware which had the privilege of being held in high regard as a symbol of prosperity and wealth- being from a bygone era where it was necessary to use a precious, hand crafted piece of silver as a spoon to measure out your tea!
Around the year 1800, tea was very expensive, and it was kept in locked containers called Caddy boxes, from the Malaysian word “kati” which was a unit of measure. Special spoons were designed to be kept in the Caddy box- hence the caddy spoon!
The caddy spoon has a shorter handle and a shallow bowl, in comparison to spoons that were used for stirring or eating. The shorter handle was so that the spoon itself could usefully be stored in the tea caddy; and purpose of the shallow bowl was so the owner could easily measure out the perfect amount of tea leaves to achieve the perfect taste. For such a practical spoon, it certainly became one of the more ornate pieces of flatware from the 18th century.
They often featured intricate detailing and naturalistic themes, as was favored during the Regency and Georgian periods when the popularity of caddy spoons surged, due to the increase in trade and the importing of tea. As we know, tea was once only for the richest members of society and has been used across the world in moments of ritual and reverence for centuries. It was therefore a luxury to indulge in, and for that opulence – no ordinary spoon would do! Sterling silver caddy spoons were preferable, as a cheaper material could have tainted the taste of the precious tea.
So just what is the attraction of these spoons?
First, is their history, which dates back to Regency and Georgian times. In addition, the range of patterns and shapes is huge, as well as the wide range of materials that were used in their design. The spoons can be found that are made of bone, ivory, wood copper, pewter and stainless steel to silver and even gold.
Did you know that there is actually a Society of Caddy Spoon Collectors? It was founded in 1963 to promote the study and appreciation of these delightful mementos of a more gracious and elegant era. They are now collected by an ever-growing group of “fanatics” if you will all over the world. And I must admit to you I am one of those “Fanatics”!