Print Friendly and PDF With Strings Attached: Polishing the silver

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Polishing the silver

I tackled some long-postponed housecleaning this week that included polishing my spoon collection. Here is the collection before.

Here is the collection after. I put the glass  "spooners," the technical name for a spoon holder, in the dishwasher. (Hand-polishing all those spoons took enough elbow grease. I wasn't going to hand-wash the spooners.)

I inherited most of the 100+-piece collection from my Aunt Carolyn Blaine Jones, who got them from her mother, Edith Walter Packer Blaine (my paternal grandmother). Edith got the spoons from her Aunt Bella Trager and Great-Aunt Henrietta Walter. I've added a couple over the years.

Edith's mother Caroline (1861-1929) was Bella's (b. 1851) younger sister.  Caroline and Bella's mother was Josephine (b. circa 1831).  Josephine was Henrietta's (b. 1845) sister.  In the middle was brother George (b. circa 1840).   As of the late 1880's (city directory) Josephine (a widow), Bella, Henrietta, and George -- lived at 52 Betts St. in the College Hill neighborhood of Cincinnati. Caroline married John Packer in 1882; they lived in Cincinnati but I don't have the address.  [I need to do more research to fill in the dates and addresses correctly.]


Henrietta was a teacher at Woodward High School. Bella was a teacher at the 10th District School. In the 1891 annual report Henrietta's salary is $1200 and Bella's is $700.  They traveled during their summer vacations and the spoons were among their souvenirs.  In the winter they gave travelogs to earn money for the next year's trip.

The collection includes a number of European spoons. There are many American and Canadian spoons, too. Most are sterling but some are silverplate -- but the good, heavy silverplate of the late 19th century (much better quality than today).                                        
Note the two bowls made out of shells. They're 100+ years old and are still intact! The center spoon has an ornate Indian on the handle and commemorates Columbus/1492 on the bowl. Next is an ornate floral handle with Cleveland on the bowl. On the right is a pretty pierced handle that spells San Francisco. Above is a beaver with Toronto University on the bowl.

These are all enamel-decorated spoons from Europe.

These spoons are not part of the inheritance. On the left is a sterling P.E.O. baby spoon that I got on eBay. Next is my dad's baby spoon. The other three pieces are my husband's baby spoon, a food pusher, and fork. Above is my husband's sterling silver rattle.

Now that the spoons are all shiny I *promise* that I will polish them more frequently!
P.S. Uncle George was in the Union Navy during the Civil War.  He kept a diary that my dad transcribed. Dad had to return the diary to a cousin (which one, I don't know). I believe that the transcription--which was typed on ditto masters and duplicated--is still among the Blaine family files in my front hall closet. Going through all of those is a future rainy-day project!


  1. Lovely collection -- and the history that goes with them makes it even more special!

  2. What a great way to get to travel! I really like the idea of collecting a souvenir from each country too. I went on a trip through Europe and close to the end of the trip, I met someone who was collecting spoons. I wish I had thought of the idea earlier. Now I collect key chains from the places that I visit. Do you display your spoons?

  3. I love the history of your spoon collection. My husbands grand-mother had a spoon with a shell as the bowl. Very interesting.

  4. That is quite the collection of spoons. We've been, gulp, trying to sell some of our silver dishes/serving pieces. Sorry to find out that the silver-plate just isn't worth anything except scrap metal. We kept about 3 boxes of stuff but have sold or given away to a local charity the rest. Who needs boxes and boxes of stuff you don't really use. I hear you on the cleaning part because I cleaned all I was keeping before storing with silver cloth around it.


Thanks for stopping to read my blog. I can't respond to every comment, but be assured that I appreciate each one.