Celebrate 125! Monday: Souvenir Spoons

Written by: Lynn Young, President General
September 14, 2015

J.E. Caldwell served as the official jeweler for the National Society for more than 100 years before the company was purchased by Hamilton Jewelers. During the organization’s early years three sterling silver spoons were created for the National Society and reproductions of one of them is still available. Shortly after the Society was founded, an official souvenir spoon was sold as a fundraiser. The design featured a woman sitting at a spinning wheel on the handle’s tip, with flax running down the length of the handle and flowing into the letters “DAR” on the bowl of the spoon. A reproduction of this design is still being sold by Hamilton Jewelers. The spoons originally sold for between $1.50 and $3.

In 1895 Georgina Morton Shippen, the State Regent of New Jersey, proposed that each Real Daughter be presented with a souvenir spoon as a gift from the National Society. The Society decided to use the official souvenir spoon already being produced, with added personalized engravings to honor each individual member whose father had served in the Revolutionary War. Each spoon was engraved with the Daughter’s initials on the back of the handle along with the message “Presented by the National Society DAR” on the bowl.

A second sterling silver spoon was designed to commemorate the dedication of Memorial Continental Hall. The Hall was featured on the bowl with the words “Memorial Continental Hall” and “April 19, 1905.”  The cornerstone of the Hall had been laid one year earlier. This spoon also was a fundraiser item; some of the proceeds were used to pay for construction costs. The handle contained the insignia of the Society and a portrait of President General Cornelia Cole Fairbanks, who served from 1901–1905, during which time the land for the building was purchased and construction begun. This spoon originally sold for $1.75.

By 1908 the Hall’s permanent heating and ventilation system was installed and contracts were being let as the bank balance permitted. It was felt, however, that financing was necessary to complete the work and so in that year the National Society secured a loan with the goal of completion by September 1909. Funds raised from the sale of a third spoon helped pay off the cost of building Memorial Continental Hall. The bowl again featured a picture of the Hall with the insignia on the handle and the tip featured an eagle and the letters “NSDAR.”  This spoon, which was also sold directly from J.E. Caldwell, was priced at $2.

This is an A Look Back article that was featured in the July/August 2014 Daughters Newsletter. Subscribe to the magazine here: www.dar.org/subscribe

In celebration of the 125th anniversary the DAR Store is selling a handmade sterling silver limited edition Commemorative Spoon that is a modified replica of the spoon issued in 1909 to raise funds for Memorial Continental Hall.  We added the current motto “God, Home & Country” as well as the dates 1890-2015 to this beautiful spoon. It comes in a silver pouch with engraved numbering on the spoon back.

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