Saving Souvenir Spoons

My love affair with souvenir spoons began in the early 80s when my mother lived in Germany and she sent me several little silver spoons that she had  purchased in some of the countries she regularly travelled to. I admit I was a bit unsophisticated (at the time…ahem) and I had no idea what one did with such tiny little spoons. I didn’t  even know that people collected them. They were too big to fit into a doll’s mouth and too small to stir coffee with. I remember that my grandmother had owned a set of tiny sterling silver spoons from Ecuador and as a child I was certain that they were designed for playing house. Bless my grandma’s soul she  never scolded me for playing with them.  Shortly after my mom moved to Europe she jumped on the souvenir spoon bandwagon and she began buying spoons for herself as well as for me. My mom purchased spoons all over Europe  as well as in such exotic places as Egypt, Greece and Saudi Arabia. There was even one  that conmemorated Charles and Diana’s recent wedding back in the days when they used to pose together looking like Cinderella and Prince Charming.  After the initial set of  spoons arrived, my mom wrote and promised to send me a display rack for them.  The wooden spoon rack arrived from Germany a short time later and I was thrilled to be able to finally hang my spoons and show them off. They were featured proudly in my dining room all through the 80s and most of the 90s.

Some of the spoons my mom sent me. There's Diana and Charles in the bottom row. The spoon with the blue bowl is from my mom's trip to Egypt and the one with the etruscan trim handle is from Greece.

Then after the passing of years some of  the spoons began to darken despite regular polishing and the humidity took it’s toll and caused some of the decals on the handles to loosen and fall off.  Sadly I was no longer able to identify where many of the spoons were from. I put the wooden display case away in a cupboard and I placed the little spoons in a plastic bag where they remained for many  years, forgotten.  Then last year my daughter travelled to Italy to study for several months and as we chatted online one night she asked me “what do you want me to bring you back from Italy?”  Something about that question stirred my memory and I blurted out automatically: “Souvenir Spoons!”  I don’t even know why I said that.  She promised to buy some and I figured I had better dust off the old German spoon rack and  see what spoons I might be able to salvage out of the plastic baggie. To my surprise (and joy)  there were several spoons that were still in good condition, including the now vintage Charles and Diana wedding spoon. My next thought of course (OF COURSE!) was Ebay and I was delighted to find that people actually sold their old souvenir spoons on Ebay. I was able to score several vintage spoons from Egypt, Jerusalem and Bethlehem for just a few dollars. By the time all my spoons had arrived, there were so many of them that they didn’t all fit in my humble little spoon rack. (Yes, I will have to buy  another)  Something  I quickly realized  is that some souvenir spoons have  wide handles, which means that they simply won’t fit in the slot of any spoon rack. This was the case with six beautiful little matching spoons from Egypt. The tips of the handles were sprinkled with different colored rhinestones that brightly decorated the headdress of Tutankhamon. (Or maybe it was Ramses)  As hard as I tried, I couldn’t get them to fit into any of the slots in the spoon rack.  I didn’t want them to end up stored in the little plastic baggie along with the other retired spoons so I began to think of a way to display them. I remembered that I had some unused inexpensive frames that were still wrapped in cellophane. After some quick measurements I knew the spoons would fit perfectly in the frame and I set to work. First I removed the glass from the front of the frame.

An empty frame makes a nice spoon display for souvenir spoons

A piece of bright green velvet made a nice backing for the spoons

Then I hot glued a piece of green velvet on the carboard backing on the frame. I carefully placed the six Egyptian spoons onto the green velvet and made sure they were spaced evenly, then hot glued them into place. That’s all there was to it. The color of the frame matched my little wooden spoon rack and they actually look like a set. I’m thinking that this might be a cool way to display other stuff too. I have a collection of Egyptian keychains lurking in a baggie that I would love to display.  I also have dozens of  bright sparkling dangly earrings that are missing the pair. Hmmm….I wonder if they’d fit in some of these little frames……

This cupboard was just the right size for both spoon displays

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