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                                                     MUS           T A    CHE         SPOONS
                                                     MUSTACHE SPOONS

                                                      The Neatest Novelty of the Victorian Age
        By Larry LeMasters

           Mustaches were quite fashionable during the late-1800s, and Victorian   guard. It was attached to the spoon to prevent a gentleman’s mustache from being
        gentlemen were very concerned with accepted manners. A passage from an 1800s   soiled when eating soup.
        book of manners, The Habits of a Good Society, gives an indication of why   Reed & Barton, silversmiths in Taunton, MA, illustrated and advertised a plated
        moustache spoons might have developed during the late 1800s: “…now you have   silver mustache spoon in their 1885 catalog. This spoon was 8.25 inches long and
        eaten, oblige me by wiping your mouth and moustache with your napkin, for there   was offered in four qualities, depending on the amount of silver used on the nickel
        is a bit of the pastry hanging to the latter, and looking very disagreeable”.  base. Original Red & Barton mustache spoons are highly sought after by today’s
           Mustaches were cultivated in all shapes and sizes during the second half of the   collectors.
        19th century. In England, men began to sport a Napoleon mustache shortly after   Also in 1885, the Denver Novelty Co. advertised a mustache spoon guard
        the Franco-Prussian War. In the United States, the popularity of the handlebar   described as “The Neatest Novelty of the Age.” These mustache guards sold for a
        mustache among men in all ranks of the armed services, as well as the civilian   mere 25¢ and were guaranteed to be adjustable to any tablespoon.
        males, appears to have followed close on the heels of the War with Mexico (1846-  One of the most ornate mustache spoons ever manufactured was made to
        1847) and the ensuing Gold Rush era. Prospectors found it difficult to keep clean-  commemorate the California Midwinter International Exposition that was held in
        shaven during their arduous journeys through wilderness areas as well as working   San Francisco from January 27 to January 30, 1894.  Several of the Exposition’s
        in mines and panning for gold in streams. Their walrus mustaches and beards often   buildings are depicted on the mustache guard.  These Exposition mustache spoons
        grew long and unkempt for months and even years.   In fact, with the exception   are often considered the Holy Grail of mustache spoons, and all collectors vie to
        of McKinley, all US presidents from Grant to Taft sported at least a flowing   own one.
        mustache—four of them had full beards.                                      By the early part of the 20th century, mustaches were no longer in vogue, and
           Often the size of a man’s mustache was rumored to measure the size of his   mustache spoons and guards quickly disappeared.  By 1920, they were all but
        manly virility, so nearly all American men sported mustaches in the late 1800s,   extinct.
        from Vandykes to bushy handlebars. Some men, such as Wild Bill Hickok sported   Today these timeless treasures of Victorian elegance are coveted and treasured
        both a mustache and a fast gun, so no one living remarked if he had food caught in   by a growing number of collectors.  While far from scarce, the really rare examples
        his mustache, and for all other men, the mustache spoon was invented.     are becoming harder and harder to find.  As highly prized mustache spoons are
           Mustaches proved a particular problem when eating, especially hot soup.  It has   fading from the marketplace, their prices are steadily increasing. Given the present
        been said, “there was many a slip twixt the spoon and the sip that led to drawing   day interest in Victoria Era items and an increase in the number of men who again
        room snickers.” When mustached men sipped their hot soup, mustaches often   sport mustaches, one would not be surprised to see a resurgence of interest by
        became stained. A blond mustache soon became a dirty brown wherever the soup   famous silversmiths in producing valid reproductions of mustache spoons.
        was in frequent contact with the upper lip hair.
           Portable mustache guards, for cups, made of silver or tin began popping up from
        several different inventors. These portable guards were carried in small cases that   Pinellas County Antique Dealers
        fit into a gentleman’s pocket. They could quickly be attached to a regular cup of
        coffee, saving the man’s mustache from certain disaster.                    1. Jewel Antique Mall                6. Asian Willow
           On the heels of these inventive guards, the mustache spoon was born. Solon     2. Laura Collum Antiques        2629 Central Ave. • 727-321-1100
        Farrer of New York patented the earliest known mustache spoon March 3, 1868.                                     7. Burchard Galleries, Inc.
        These spoons, also known as etiquette spoons, first graced the tables of American     3. The Silver Queen         2528 30th Ave. N. • 800-520-2787
        homes, which made sense since, as noted earlier, Americans carried guns and     4. Antique Marketplace
        didn’t like being teased over a dirty mustache.                             5. Antique Galleries of St. Petersburg    8. Andrea and Friends
           Mustache tablespoons were made from electroplated silver on nickel. They were
        unusual because a semi-circular piece of metal was often soldered onto the bowl
        of what was essentially a regular tablespoon. This feature was called a mustache
                                                                                     2      3

                                                            Electroplated silver
                    Lias Brothers of London,               on nickel mustache
                    Victorian silver mustache             tablespoon; circa 1883.
                    spoon, circa 1877, that is
                       valued at $700.

                    California Midwinter International Exposition,
                            1894, mustache spoon.



                    Silver plated mustache spoon by Reed & Barton with original box.
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