Appreciating a Smaller Collection

She was my first purchase. Isn’t her little fairy flower face cute? She dates to 1892 during the heyday of souvenir spoons in the U.S.

As someone who has been an on-again, off-again collector, I understand the lure of things, and the excitement and, even joy, which comes from finding that perfect item to add to a collection. Other than a few childhood collections (rocks and marbles), I didn’t start collecting anything until my mid-30s when, with college loans paid off and a job in high tech, I finally had some disposable income.

The first thing I started to collect seemed so random, but wasn’t entirely. I had inherited three antique sterling silver souvenir spoons from a great aunt. I thought they were rather charming and later when I spotted an old spoon in an antique store, I bought it to add to the small group.

And then I found another. And another.

But it wasn’t until the birth of eBay that I really started my collection in earnest. Over the ensuing years I bought dozens (and dozens) of beautiful old spoons online. I stuck them in a bowl and when my then-very-young daughters would have “coffee” with me, they would happily choose which spoon to use.

Why did I collect them? I loved the history, the craftsmanship, the delicate engraving and beauty. Bonus, they were usable, small (barely taking up any room) and sterling silver, my favorite metal!

Here’s a lovely “Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls” spoon. Quite realistic!
This one is from the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago featuring Bertha Palmer. Don’t you love the detail of the pearl choker?
Isn’t the perspective on this NY Subway spoon intriguing??

But over the years I slowly stopped buying spoons and stopped using them. They were left to tarnish in my china hutch. And it finally dawned on me that an unappreciated collection is rather pointless. So, I started downsizing it and keeping only my favorite favorites! The best of the best. Turns out most of my keepers were demi-sized and they are now in a little bowl in my kitchen where I see them all the time. Downsizing the collection actually made me appreciate the ones I’m keeping. What a nice surprise. And they still make me smile.


The others I’m slowly selling in my Etsy shop. This is NOT a hot collectible market, though some rare spoons command good prices. I’ve sold 16 spoons so far with a bunch more to sell, but I know I need to improve my store photos! (Maybe a good project for today.)


I have one spoon which I may try to use in a trade some day!

Here’s the story…Years ago I bought a Mark Hopkins Hotel spoon. This San Francisco hotel is posh and famous. Right after I won the eBay auction, the seller contacted and asked if I really wanted the spoon as the hotel had just contacted him and wanted the spoon for their museum. Yes, I wanted the spoon!

Here’s the back side of the Mark Hopkins Hotel spoon which depicts a very detailed cocktail lounge (including the view of the Bay Bridge) called Top of the Mark.

Though it’s been years since I bought the spoon I was thinking that I might contact the hotel and see if they wanted to swap a night at their hotel for the spoon. What do you think? Seems like an interesting proposition to me!  Then me and my hubby could recreate this old Top of the Mark photo!


Any collections you need to downsize??


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