British Silver Tells Us So Much

Take this spoon. From the stamped marks we know that it was made by Brook & Son and assayed in Edinburgh, 1938.



The form is somewhat unusual, and you'd be forgiven for thinking a type of Celtic revival caddy spoon.

To deduce its actual purpose, we must look to Brook & Son, taking a cursory glance at their output of the time.

This first takes us to 1919 and an archaeological discovery at Traprain Law in East Lothian, in turn transporting us back to the 5th Century AD, when this hoard of Roman silver was buried.

This discovery of over 300 items remains the largest of its kind outside the Roman Empire, with the complex excavation requiring a conservation effort. Without a specialised department, the firm of one Alexander Brook (member of Soc. Of Antiquaries of Scotland) was called in.

Alongside initial cleaning efforts, Brook was also tasked with creating a replica of one of the vessels for Arthur Balfour (later PM and upon who's land the treasure was found), with further commissions soon to follow.

At a certain point in production, Brook realised the potential for wider public demand (in keeping with an established taste for ancient artefacts) and a commercial venture was born.

From the 1920s to the 1940s, a variety of replicas were issued.

Whilst this included some larger commissions, the most popular replicas appear as the below spoon. Affordable signifiers of cultural capital by an aspiring middle class.

An assembled set of four will feature alongside other works of intrigue and splendour in our upcoming silver auction, one it’s been a pleasure to put together.



For a complimentary, no-obligation valuation, visit our Glasgow Galleries or contact a specialist on 0141 810 2880 or

James Bruce

James Bruce


Valuer and Auctioneer


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