Check your cutlery draws! Mystery spoon from 1654 found in aunt's kitchen could sell for £1,000

Posted on 02/10/2019 in Press Coverage

A centuries-old English silver spoon – found in an aunt’s cutlery drawer in Derby – could sell for more than £1,000.

The early seal top spoon, which is believed to date back to circa 1654 making it 365 years old, was made by silversmith Jeremy Johnson of London and is a collector’s item. But how it came to be in a Littleover house nearly four centuries later is a complete mystery.

The seller, a Belper man who wishes to remain anonymous, found it when he was clearing out his late aunt’s house two weeks ago, tucked away at the back of her cutlery drawer.

He said: “I’d never seen it before in my life and I’ve been going to the house in Littleover for 54 years. It stood out but I wasn’t sure it was worth anything. So, I took it to Hansons to get it valued.

“I’ve got no idea how my aunt came to own the spoon. She had no interest in antiques and was not in the least bit materialistic. She grew up on a council estate in Allenton and both her and my late uncle weren’t the type of couple to splash the cash on unnecessary items.

“The only thing I can think of is that it was inherited through my uncle’s side of the family as there was some wealth there.One of his ancestors established Browns Foundry in Derby in 1869.”

The spoon’s pedigree was spotted by Karl Martin, a valuer at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall. He said: “I was completely taken aback when I saw it. It was like finding a diamond in a pile of bananas.

“Our client brought along a few pieces of 1920s ceramics which weren’t of any great value – and then I spotted the spoon which he’d discovered in his relative’s knife and fork drawer.

“I knew it was special straight away. It’s a 17th century silver spoon which would have been given to a couple when they married. It’s going into Hansons’ October silver sale with a guide price of £500 to £700 and could potentially sell for more than £1,000.”

When the spoon was made nearly four centuries ago, Charles II was King of England and Oliver Cromwell was Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.

From the Middle Ages, a silver spoon symbolised family wealth, hence the saying ‘Born with a silver spoon in his mouth’. In the 17th century, silver was often a part of a bride’s dowry.

Mr Martin said: “This is a classic example of a small, long forgotten item turning out to be really valuable. Keen silver collectors would treasure an object like this. A silver Puritan spoon made by Jeremy Johnson in 1662 sold for £1,875 at Christie’s. I suppose the message to everyone is check your cutlery drawers.”

The silver spoon will be sold on October 28 in a Fine Silver Auction at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire DE65 6LS. More silver items are sought for future silver sales. To find out more or to arrange a free valuation, email silver specialist Victoria Sheppard: [email protected].