Silver spoons with fig-shaped bowls and handles topped by figures of apostles, or in the case of the master spoon of a set of thirteen, by the figure of Christ. Apostle spoon sets comprise the twelve Apostles and the Saviour or Master. A number of full length figures of the Virgin Mary are also known, and a set in the British Museum has a figure of the Virgin Mary on the thirteenth spoon.
 
Rare documentary sets of 13 exist but individual spoons are far more commonly available today. Each saint holds an emblem of his martyrdom (St.Peter with a key), but these are often damaged or missing. Size and poor quality casting can also make identification difficult. They were made throughout Europe but especially in Britain and Germany between 1490 and 1675 . The earliest set is dated to 1493, though they were most popular from 1500 to the 1660's.
 
 
Apostles Spoon Set
 
 
Popular in Britain, Germany and elsewhere from about 1490 to 1675, they became collectable in Victorian times and have been faked, forged and reproduced ever since. No complete sets of thirteen are known to remain before the 1500’s. However many ”apostle” coffee spoons were mass produced in Britain in the 1800’s and 1900’s.
 
 
Apostle Spoon Finials
 
 
The earliest finials on British spoons were the acorn knop from the 1200’s, and the diamond point from the 1300’s. The seal top with a flat disc above a rather architectural baluster, is the most common from about 1500, but from the mid 1400’s there were also heraldic finials, such as the lion sejant or the head of the de la Pole Earls of Suffolk. The type known as the maidenhead, a bust-length Virgin figure, was associated with the Mercers’ Company, who used it in their crest. From around the Charles II period until the early 1700’s, the trefid or trifid terminal is common. As here, initials and occasionally a date are found pricked into the flat end. These will be on what would now be considered on the underside as spoons were then laid on the table as shown below.
 
 
Apostle Spoon
 
 
The makers mark is generally punched on the back of the stem near the bowl, but the London leopards head and some provincial town marks appear in the bowl itself close to the stem. In the 1600’s bowls became more oval and stems a little flatter and less tapering.
 
The Victorians revived the design, in miniature, for coffee spoons, and modern fakers have often produced ’apostles’ by reshaping stems and bowls of 1700’s spoons and soldering on cast figures. Usually only one mould was used for the figure although he may have had a different attribute – Peter’s keys, Andrews cross – soldered on. Pairs of large apostle spoons in fitted boxes occur quite commonly from the beginning of the 1800’s and 1900’s, usually given to commemorate some event of religious significance such as the laying of a foundation stone. The proportions and casting of modern examples are often too perfect.
 
Apostle spoons were often given as christening gifts. The wealthy might give a complete set, whereas the less affluent would give a single spoon, perhaps picking the Saint after which the child had been named.
 
Silver spoons were generally much sought after as a sign of wealth, and whatever was popular in silver was soon copied in pewter, so that even the less well-to-do could enjoy some measure of style.
 
Only four original complete apostle spoon sets are known to exist.
 
In Britain in the 1500,s wealthy gentry and merchants could afford to have silver items for their personal use. These would include domestic pieces for dining, such as spoons, flagons and cups, as well as items for religious use, such as chalices and patens. Some dining silver was decorated with religious motifs and inscriptions; Apostle spoons symbolize the Last Supper of Christ in the company of the Apostles. Apostle spoons were especially popular in Britain, but were also found in large numbers in Germany.

The Twelve Apostles
 
Saint Andrew
saint andrew
 
 
 
Born in Bethesda and a fisherman by trade. He was a follower of John the Baptist and then became the first Apostle. He preached in Asia Minor, possibly Russia and Poland, and then in Greece where he was martyred, being tied to an 'x' shaped cross, from which he preached for two days before dying. His feast day is the 30th of November. He is the Patron Saint of fishermen, maidens and spinsters. He is also the Patron Saint of Scotland. The spoon shows him holding a saltire cross.

Patron Saint
Fishermen
Maidens & Spinsters
Scotland
 
 
 
 

Saint Bartholomew
saint bartholomew
 
 
 
 
Mentioned in the Gospels and Acts as an Apostle, and a close friend of Saint Philip who introduced him to Jesus. He preached in India, Asia Minor, Ethiopia and Greater Armenia, where he was flayed alive and beheaded. His feast day is the 24th of August. He is the Patron Saint of butchers, leatherworkers and shoemakers. The spoon shows him holding a butchers knife.

Patron Saint
Butchers
Leatherworkers
Shoemakers
 
 
 
 
 

Saint James the Greater
saint james the greater
 
 
 
Son of Zebedee, brother of Saint John. He is termed 'The Greater' as he became an Apostle before the younger James the Lesser. James was a close friend of Jesus and was present at many of the miracles. He preached in Spain and Judea and was the first Apostle to be martyred. He was killed in 44AD, stabbed with a sword by King Herod Agrippa. His feast day is the 25th of July. He is the Patron Saint of blacksmiths, labourers and pilgrims. The spoon shows him holding a pilgrims staff.

Patron Saint
Blacksmiths
Labourers
Pilgrims
 
 
 
 

Saint James the Lesser
saint james the lesser
 
 
 
Also known as James the Just, he was the author of the first Catholic Epistle and first Bishop of Jerusalem. His mother was a close relative of the Virgin Mary and James is often referred to as the Cousin of Jesus. James was martyred in 62AD, stoned to death after being thrown from the pinnacle of a temple. His feast day is the 3rd of May. He is the Patron Saint of apothecaries, hat makers, dyers and fullers. The spoon shows him holding a fullers club.

Patron Saint
Apothecaries
Hat Makers
Dyers & Fullers
 
 
 
 

Saint John
saint john
 
 
 
 
Son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of Saint James the Greater. He became so close to Jesus that he was known as "the beloved disciple". He founded many churches in Asia Minor but spent most of his time in Jerusalem. He died of old age at Ephesus in 101AD, having survived all his fellow Apostles. His feast day is the 27th of December. He is the Patron Saint of authors, booksellers, engravers and painters. He is also Patron against burns and poisons. The spoon shows him holding a chalice or "the cup of sorrow".

Patron Saint
Burns
Poisons
 
 
 
 
 

Saint Jude of Thaddaeus
saint jude
 
 
 
 
Brother of Saint James the Lesser and a blood relative of Jesus, being the nephew of Mary and Joseph. He preached in Judea, Syria, Mesopotamia, Libya and Persia, where he was beaten to death and beheaded. His feast day is the 28th of October. He is the Patron Saint of lost or desperate causes, hospital and health workers. This is because of his New Testament letter which calls upon the faithful to persevere in adversity. The spoon shows him holding a large cross.

Patron Saint
Lost or Desparate Causes
Hospital & Health Workers
 
 
 
 
 
Saint Mathew
saint mathew
 
 
Also known as Levi, son of Alphaeus, he lived at Capernaum on Lake Geneserath, where he worked as a tax collector. He preached mainly in Palestine and perhaps in Ethiopia. He was the author of the first Gospel, written in Aramaic, mainly for his countrymen of Jerusalem. He departed Palestine sometime before its destruction by the Romans in 70AD, and it is uncertain whether he was martyred or died naturally. His feast day is the 21st of September. He is the Patron Saint of bookkeepers, accountants, security forces and tax collectors. The spoon shows him holding an axe.

Patron Saint
Book-keepers
Accountants
Security Forces
Tax Collectors
 
 
 

Saint Mathius
saint mathius
 
 
 
Became an Apostle after the Resurrection to replace Judas Iscariot. Choosing a replacement meant finding a disciple who had been with them from the beginning and who had witnessed the Resurrection. Eventually it was between Mathius and Joseph Barsabbas, so the two cast lots so that the Lord might make the choice. Mathius preached the Gospel for thirty years in Judea, Egypt and Ethiopia. He was martyred by stoning to death. His feast day is the 14th of May. He is the Patron Saint of tailors, carpenters and alcoholics. The spoon shows him holding a halberd.

Patron Saint
Tailors
Carpenters
Alcoholics
 
 
 

Saint Peter
saint peter
 
 
 
 
Brother of Saint Andrew and born with the name of Simon. Jesus named him 'Peter' and told him "To you I will give the keys to the kingdom of Heaven". He was either martyred and crucified upside down or, says another legend, he was beheaded in a forest so that other Christians could not find and venerate his bones. His feast day is the 29th of June. He is the Patron Saint of fishermen, clockmakers and locksmiths. The spoon shows him holding a key.

Patron Saint
Fishermen
Clockmakers
Locksmiths
 
 
 
 
 

Saint Philip
saint philip
 
 
 
 
 
A disciple of John the Baptist, born in Galilee and a confidant of Jesus. He preached in Asia Minor and Greece, where he was crucified upside down in 80AD by the Emperor Domitian. His feast day is the 3rd of May. He is the Patron Saint of Luxembourg and Uraguay. The spoon shows him holding a staff with a cross in the 't'.

Patron Saint
Luxembourg
Uraguay
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Saint Simon Zelotes (the zealot)
saint simon
 
 
 
 
So called because of his fervent adherence to Jewish law, or it may indicate that he belonged to a group of patriots who were prepared to revolt against the Roman occupation. He was one of the original followers of Jesus. He preached in Egypt and then went to Persia with Saint Jude. It was here that he suffered martyrdom, being sawn in half by pagan priests. His feast day is the 28th of October. He is the Patron Saint of sawyers. The spoon shows him holding a long saw.

Patron Saint
Sawyers
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saint Thomas
saint thomas
 
 
Also known as "doubting Thomas", as he doubted the other Apostles account of the Resurrection. It was eight days later on Christ’s second rising that he was allowed to convince himself by touching the wounds. He went to preach in Parthia and India where, in 72AD, he was stabbed to death with a spear. His feast day is the 3rd of July. He is the Patron Saint of architects, builders, stonemasons and the blind. He is also Patron against doubt. The spoon shows him holding a spear.

Patron Saint
Architects
Builders
Stonemasons
Blind
 
 
 
 
 
The Saviour or Master
the savior spoon
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The spoon shows Jesus holding an orb and sceptre.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Patron Saints
Accountants:                  Saint Mathew
Alcoholics:                      Saint Mathius
Apothecaries:                 Saint James the Lesser
Architects:                      Saint Thomas
Authors:                          Saint John
Blacksmiths:                   Saint James the Greater
Book-keepers:                Saint John
Builders:                         Saint Thomas
Butchers:                        Saint Bartholomew
Carpenters:                     Saint Mathius
Clockmakers:                  Saint Philip
Computer operators:       Saint Jude (lost causes!!!!)
Engravers:                      Saint John
Fishermen:                     Saint Philip and Saint Andrew
Hat makers:                    Saint James the Lesser
Hospital workers:            Saint Jude
Labourers:                       Saint James the Greater
Leatherworkers:              Saint Bartholomew
Locksmiths:                     Saint Peter
Maidens:                         Saint Andrew
Painters:                          Saint John
Pilgrims:                          Saint James the Greater
Security forces:               Saint Mathew
Shoemakers:                   Saint Bartholomew
Spinsters:                        Saint Andrew
Stonemasons:                 Saint Thomas
Tailors:                            Saint Mathius
Tax collectors:                 Saint Mathew