It's not all bone china and porcelain around here, no sirree -- if that were the case, we would have to stir the moo into our tea with our delicate fingers, which (if the tea is hot enough) would be painful, so fuggeddaboutit! Besides, any chance to lug out the silver chests and choose from among Trixie's treasures is a chance worth taking, so let's...
At left is a pair of unrelated, yet equally attractive, small spoons -- one silverplate (the shinier one), the other sterling silver (with twisted handle). Spoons of this size (shorter than 5 inches) are often called demitasse or coffee spoons, since the moniker teaspoon has already been taken by our standard place-setting spoon.
The silverplate spoon is in the Cardinal pattern, which was patented by Rogers and Hamilton in 1887. It has a leafy scroll on the handle, and a column of embossed ovals on the neck which are bookended by small crown-like flourishes. It's a very neat late-Victorian pattern, one that is definitely looking ahead to the Twentieth Century.
The sterling spoon, on the other hand, shows the maker's hand -- on the back of the neck is a mark "ATK 830.5" -- 830.5 giving us a clue that this is older Scandinavian sterling (American sterling almost always bears the number 925, or the word "Sterling," or both). I haven't been able to find out anything about the maker of this spoon yet, but it sure is fun to stir my tea while searching... Take a peek at the bottom image, which shows the back of the spoon handle-tip where the owner (or a pal) hand-pricked initials with what appears to have been a needle... I believe the letters are "G. S." Well, dear G.S., thank you for taking such good care of your twist-handle spoon, because I really enjoy using it in the Twenty-First Century... By the way, a twisted handle gives added strength, besides looking really, really awesome.
A tip to those who love silvery, shiny objects but may be new to scouting: a silverplate piece will weigh more than a sterling piece of the same size, because the base metals -- the blended metals onto which the silver coating is "plated" -- are heavier than pure silver. Vintage sterling often has a duller finish, or almost a "blush" on the finish, vs. new or very good-condition silverplate which has a truly white-silver shine -- this is because sterling is softer, and gets a lovely patina of small scratches which create a hazy glow (ooh!).
Care instructions -- you know Dustin! -- please HAND WASH always, especially older pieces. Wash in gentle suds and towel dry right away. A couple of other tips: do not leave silverplate pieces in SALT or ACID for very long, as the plating can corrode; and use your silverware because loved silver is happy, shiny silver.
Sterling can be quite expensive (price is often calculated by a combination of metal weight plus the intricacy of the piece/fame of the maker), but silverplate usually runs cheap because a) people don't like what they can't throw into the dishawasher, and b) badly-worn silverplate is all too common, with base metal showing through, particularly on the backs of spoons and on fork times.
You know what I would love? I would really be jazzed if you would take a picture of your favorite spoon-for-tea and post it on our Facebook page! Yes, please. And if you do, Trix and I shall send you a teeny, tiny present. Absolutely.
Until soon -- blowing you a tea-stained kiss,