Maidenhead spoons seem to have made their appearance in the late fourteenth century. That some were indented to represent the Virgin Mary is revealed in an inventory of Durham Priory, in 1446, in which "ij coclearia argentea at deaurata unius sectae, cum ymaginibus Beatae Mariae in fine eorundem" ("two partially gilded silver spoons with the image of the Holy Mary at their ends"), and again in a much later of 1525 in which spoons "knopped with the image of our Lady" are mentioned. In the present example, the Virgin, dressed in the fashion of the first half of the fifteenth century, wears an elaborate rolled headdress and a dress with a V-shaped neckline and a raised collar.
These two spoons, although both probably of provincial workmanship since they bear no clearly identifiable London silver mark, are good examples of two of the most popular types of spoons in the late fourteenth centuries. The other most common types were the diamond point, the seal top, and the slip-top.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Marking: (in top of bowl) indecipherable maker's mark
J.P. Benson ; [ G.E.P. How (sold 1955) ]
New York. The Cloisters Museum & Gardens. "The Secular Spirit: Life and Art at the End of the Middle Ages," March 28, 1975–June 15, 1975.
Husband, Timothy B., and Jane Hayward, ed. The Secular Spirit: Life and Art at the End of the Middle Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975. no. 57b, pp. 56-57.