22 February 2011

Where did the silver spoons go?

One of the first biographies published in this dictionary was for Dr. Wilfred Harris. An anonymous commentator answers the antiquarian question of where Harris's collection of silver spoons went by pointing us to his BMJ Obituary:

One of Harris's great interests was the collection of early
English silver spoons, a hobby which he took up when only
18. At the dinner held at St. Mary's to celebrate his 80th
birthday, the gift to him by his colleagues of two spoons
for his collection was obviously -one which touched him
deeply. His collection of 80 choice specimens was sold at
Christie's in 1957 and fetched no less than £14,876. Among
them was an Edward IV spoon of 1463 which is probably
the earliest example of English silver bearing a date letter;
it was bought for £1,600, a record price for any spoon. His
interest in other types of antique craftsmanship is witnessed
by his presentation to Caius College of an antique mahogany
clock made by Tutet in 1765.

Many thanks! The historical question, of course, is why do facts like this continue to be remembered. We could point to a whole host of unremarkable trivia about neurologists that we nevertheless know. Gordon Holmes interests in Gothic architecture. William Gooddy's interests in fonts and the making ceramic tiles. Hughlings Jackson's love of penny novels. T. Grainger Stewart's mountaineering. Wasn't E.G. Robertson renowned for his love of iron-making? Countless others are available. Add your own if you like.


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