Most of the eating implements found at Jamestown are comprised of bone-handled knives. They may have had multiple uses beyond food preparation and consumption, including use as tools or weapons. Far rarer are spoons such as this example, the earliest found at James Fort. Spoons were necessary utensils for consuming stews and porridges and serving sauces during the early fort period, but unless they were made of a long-lasting metal, they did not survive in Jamestown’s acidic soil. Jamestown Rediscovery’s archaeological collection ranges in date from 1607 until 1699, and includes over 500 knives or parts of knives, but fewer than 100 spoons primarily made of copper alloy or pewter.
Spoons used in the seventeenth century were commonly made of wood; however, none has been recovered at Jamestown, maybe because of soil conditions. Silver spoons undoubtedly were used by Jamestown’s wealthy upper echelon, however they have not been found by Rediscovery archaeologists. Their absence from the archaeological record may be because they were status symbols with significant monetary value, thus may have been handed down as heirlooms. Attesting to the intrinsic value of the spoon, the oldest surviving piece of the Crown Jewels is the Coronation Spoon that may date as early as the 12th century. In 1603, just four years before the founding of Jamestown, it was used in the coronation ceremony to anoint King James I.
Spoons are datable based on their style and shape, which changed over time. This spoon is typical of the seventeenth century spoons with a fig-shaped bowl and a decorative terminal, in this case in the shape of a heart.