Silver spoon made for the Gilbert family

Contributed by RAMM Exeter

Silver spoon made for the Gilbert family

It's just a little silver spoon. But it was an heirloom to a family who changed the Tudor world.

The spoon is engraved with the arms of a famous Devon family: the Gilberts, who defended against the Spanish Armada and set up the first colonies in America: the so-called New World. Many of England's best seafarers came from Devon.

The hallmark on this Tudor spoon tells us that it was made in around 1580 by Exeter silver-smith John Eydes. On the handle are the initials AG and an image of a squirrel, which appears in the Gilbert family crest. Tudor spoons were often made in sets and this could be one of a set made for Sir John Gilbert, who organised Devon's defence against the Spanish Armada.
The silver was likely to have come from mines at Combe Martin in North Devon, which were then owned by the Gilbert family. It is thought that John Gilbert left this spoon to his younger brother Adrian who then added his initials and the date. Another brother, Humphrey Gilbert, a politician and adventurer, was keen to gain access to the resources of the New World. He saw the value of its fish and timber to English trade and claimed Newfoundland for the English crown in 1583.

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Comments

  • 2 comments
  • 1. At 13:26 on 22 July 2010, RAMM Exeter wrote:

    That's a lovely, handmade silver spoon.... I like it very much.... In the last 50 years or so, people [have taken up] making silver objects themselves. That reminds me of a jam spoon made by a lady I know in just that style.

    (Margaret Hammond, painter, in a Moving Here session organised by RAMM Exeter)

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  • 2. At 13:27 on 22 July 2010, RAMM Exeter wrote:

    It's beautiful. I love that kind of design. There's a wonderful English tradition of silversmithing.

    (Richard from Exeter, in a Moving Here session organised by RAMM Exeter)

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Location
Culture
Period

1580 AD

Theme
Size
H:
18cm
Colour
Material

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