Curated Curiosities: Commemorative silver objects
Throughout the centuries silver objects have been given as presents to commemorate special occasions in life.
For example, on the occasion of births, christenings, weddings, wedding anniversaries or funerals, silverware turned out to be an ideal material to be engraved with a commemorative text. The material itself is appealing because of its lustre, its intrinsic value and sustainability, adding a sense of opulence and giving status to the occasion.
From a historical point of view the inscriptions, which vary from names, initials, dates and coats-of-arms to (moralistic) texts and legends, provide interesting information about the provenance of the objects. These precious family heirlooms, which were intended to be handed down to the next generations, were often kept because of the inscriptions.
Detail from a silver ice spoon, an ice-skater, Dutch, Enkhuizen with year mark 1755.
In 1763 the Dutch winter was so cold that people could ice-skate over the Zuiderzee, nowadays the IJsselmeer. To remember this cold winter and this special ice trip, people had these commemorative silver spoons ordered.
A fine example is this commemorative spoon in our collection, made by Arend Hoogland in Haarlem in 1756, which was commissioned for the occasion of the 25th wedding anniversary of a couple, whose parents would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary had the father not died some days before the festivities took place. The legend in Dutch reads:
"Wij traden in den Echt toen ’t Zilver Trouwfeest van’s Bruids Ouders wierd gevierd. Was ’s Vaders Leeftijd nog agt weeken toegelegt. Zo had hun Goude Feest ons Zilvere versierd."
6-6-1756 I.V. Westerkappel en M. Koster.
A silver commemorative spoon by Arend Hoogland, dated 1756, 65 gram and length 20.5.
Pieter Langendijk, the famous Haarlem playwright and poet, made a wedding poem for this couple at their wedding day on 6 June 1731. Also, a commemorative medal was made for this occasion by the Amsterdam silversmith Cornelis Courtier, displaying some lines of Lagendijk’s poem. This medal is now in the collection of Teylers Museum in Haarlem.
We are grateful to Annelize Roosjen for writing this article.