Silver-Plated Commemorative Spoon
I obtained this spoon through my grandfather's belongings when he passed away about four or five years ago. It's been actually in storage up until last week. I was just going through some things and I saw that, and so I figured I'd bring it in. I noticed it had some hopefully historic value to it being that it was engraved with "Rhode Island" on it and to a lieutenant governor. Other than that, I'm sorry to say I don't know a whole lot about it.
Well, the inscription you're talking about here says: "To Jabez Bowen, Rhode Island, from Rochambeau," the French commander, and the date is 1780. Now, the interesting thing about this spoon is that it may not be quite as old, I think, as it's pretending to be. And as often happens in the world of antiques, a date on something may not be the date when it was originally made. To get the story, if we turn it over to the other side, you can see here it's got two marks: one is Gorham-- that's the maker's mark of the Gorham company, who are, of course, a Providence, Rhode Island, firm of silversmiths; and also there's another mark here that says "E.P." And in fact, that stands for "electroplate." In fact, this spoon is an electroplated copy of a spoon that is in the Newport Historical Society, and it was presented to Jabez Bowen, who was a Newport merchant, by Rochambeau in 1780. Here's the Rochambeau coat of arms on the top of it there. Rochambeau came to Newport-- which, of course, had been closed by the British during the War of Independence-- and liberated the harbor. Jabez Bowen was a local merchant whose livelihood depended on Newport's harbor working. And so Rochambeau presented him with this spoon, and it's been a great historical piece in Newport ever since. The Gorham company, some years ago, made these copies, and they themselves have become collectibles.
So I've been duped.
Well, you haven't been duped, no. It was made as a commemorative souvenir 30, 40 years ago. Its current value today is probably between $50 and $100.
That's not bad, I guess. I figure I had it on the front seat of my car coming up here not knowing any value to it, so... Thank you.
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