Back then, advertising was spoon-fed


Over the many decades business folks have advertised readily through almost every medium and method conceivable. As competition increased over the decades, collectors have sought the advertisements – not just the paper ads.

One of the types of advertising that could be employed into daily use is the spoon. The prime years of their becoming available was prior to 1900 and for several decades thereafter. Due to their metallic content, many have survived to be enjoyed by the legion of spoon collectors.

Advertisement spoons are of special interest because of the subject represented and the ease of identification. However, many spoons are questionable as to whether there are an advertisement or souvenir.

Some souvenir types may advertise an area, event or place; however a true advertising spoon deals with a commodity under the product’s own name.

For years my son, Bob, and I collected bottles, one type of which was Larkin Soap containers. Besides bottles to complete an interest, other Larkin Soap premiums were issued by the company around 1900 to go along with them.

Spoons advertising the product were at a premium during that era. Jell-o issued a spoon that had the company’s name on the bottom of the bowl and a little girl figurine at the spoon top.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the Kellogg cereal company gave premium spoons with Dennis the Menace, Woody Woodpecker and Tony the Tiger on the spoon handles. At that time collectors would send in 25 cents and box tops for the set. Now, the spoons are around $15 to $20 a set.

The Dionne Quintuplets images were shown on spoons as a premium from Palmolive Soap in the late 1930s. Each one was sent for a soap wrapper and 25 cents, now a set goes for over $100.

Disney characters have appeared on spoons, but the only one I am aware of is an advertisement type; Post Toasties issued it.

Combined with your advertisement spoon collection can be the many character spoons that closely resemble that category. That is unless you are what is termed a “purist” in any field of collecting.

A category many travelers indulge in are the spoons representing a given area or city. Most every large city has its own particular manufactured product or tourist attraction, of which is usually found a souvenir spoon.

Grand Rapids, Mich., famous for years for the furniture manufactured there, had souvenir spoons with tables and chairs on them. Boston had beans shown on spoons; Boulder, Colo., issued one with an Indian head on it; and Salem, Mass., sold spoons with a witch embossed over it.

As you can imagine, every town, city, park or whatever had or has souvenir spoons of varying quality for sale. A selling point of spoons is that they are of lasting quality and often quite attractive.

Not all souvenir spoons are of good quality, therefore collectors should consider factors pertaining to them.

Naturally, a sterling type is the choice item, more so than a plated one which could be several qualities of plating. Plated spoons are of more value and interest than steel or brass, which ranks above plastic.

Some of the most commonly found advertising spoons are named “pattern handle” types. These are standard pattern flatware from a silver company’s line that usually are in complete sets.

The “pattern handle” spoons are the standard patterns with a commercial company’s special issue added to create a premium. Some collectible advertisement spoons were given as premiums. But to look at the item, there is no indication that it is such an item. Only by study and browsing through old ads can this fact be discerned.


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