CORN-8F1407: spoon finial (front)

Rights Holder: Royal Institution of Cornwall
CC License:

Rights Holder: Royal Institution of Cornwall
CC License:

Rights Holder: Royal Institution of Cornwall
CC License:

Rights Holder: Royal Institution of Cornwall
CC License:

Rights Holder: Royal Institution of Cornwall
CC License:

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Unique ID: CORN-8F1407

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

Cast copper alloy spoon finial or knop in the form of a female hooded figure draped at the back, with a bundle in front of her left arm, so perhaps a figure of the Virgin Mary holding the Christ child, but the figure appears to have bare legs and is also holding a vessel in her right hand so may represent a more Classical female figure holding a water jug, which has been copied in many media since. The figure is worn and corroded and so small that it is hard to make out enough detail to identify it.

Apostle spoons are generally silver or silver gilt with a religious figure forming the finial of the spoon stem. There is one in the British Museum's collection with a silver gilt terminal of the Virgin Mary with a lily in her left hand (1981,0701.5) which dates from 1536-1537.

Egan (2005) illustrates a tin spoon with a similar finial, perhaps classical but more cherubic, although mistakenly termed 'maidenhead', on page 114, fig.104, no.549, which is dated from c.1580-1600.

Read (2001) illustrates a similar tin alloy 'maidenhead' knop and another finial with a figure with legs holding something in the arms on pages 96-97, figs.62-63, nos.717 & 723, which are dated from the 15th century.


The earliest dated set of Apostle Spoons is 1493, but they were most popular from 1500 to the 1660's. Complete sets consisted of all twelve Apostles and the Saviour or the Virgin Mary. They were commonly given as Christening gifts, either as a full set by the wealthy or just as a single spoon by the less affluent. For the most part, these spoons were made individually. Wealthy grandparents would buy one spoon representing a babies "Apostle" and it would be their Christening present. This spoon would be used only by that person and it would be kept for life. Consequently most of the old apostle spoons show considerable wear both at the finial and at the bowl. The phrase "to be born with a silver spoon" stems from this tradition. Initially they were made from silver, but examples made from pewter or copper alloy are known.

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: POST MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Late
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Subperiod to: Middle
Date from: Circa AD 1450
Date to: Circa AD 1660

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 19.4 mm
Height: 19.4 mm
Width: 7.4 mm
Thickness: 5 mm
Weight: 1.78 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Monday 2nd April 2018 - Monday 2nd April 2018

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Ms Anna Tyacke
Identified by: Ms Anna Tyacke

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Fragment

Spatial metadata

Region: South West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
Parish or ward: St. Just (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SW3830
Four figure Latitude: 50.11214148
Four figure longitude: -5.66600351
1:25K map: SW3830
1:10K map: SW30SE
Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: CORN
Created: 9 months ago
Updated: 9 months ago

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