Throughout the 19th century, when etiquette called for a different type of utensil for every kind of food, "silver spoons became an avenue of artistic and individual expression," according to Antique Central. Silversmiths created spoons for every purpose, including soup spoons, salt spoons, oyster spoons, sugar spoons and delicate demitasse spoons.
Sugar spoons are larger than demitasse spoons. Sugar spoons are used primarily for serving sugar with tea and coffee, whereas demitasse spoons are most often used for stirring espresso drinks in small cups.
Demitasse spoons are small, just three to four inches long, and they often have a wide bowl. The word "demitasse" originated in France in the mid-1840s. "Demi" means half and "tasse" means cup, and in both France and Italy, "demitasse" was used to describe not only a small cup of coffee, but the cup the coffee was served in.
Demitasse spoons were and are used to stir sugar, milk or cream into small cups of hot coffee, cappuccino or espresso. These spoons, also referred to as espresso spoons in Italy, have traditionally been made of silver to preserve the coffee's flavour, although they may also be gold or stainless steel.
Demitasse spoons were considered a statement of style and culture, with different demitasse spoons being selected to "accompany a particular coffee and to coordinate with the cup and saucer," according to Antique Central.
Today, demitasse spoons are used for after dinner coffee, tea or smooth desserts, such Gelato or ice cream.
The sugar spoon, which originated between 1700 and 1710, is "a small spoon for serving granulated sugar, resembling but having a wider bowl than a teaspoon," as defined by the Random House Unabridged Dictionary.
The bowls of some sugar spoons are moulded in the shape of a sea shell, giving them the name sugar shell. These were designed to be used with a sugar bowl. Another kind of sugar spoon is sometimes called the "sugar shovel" because of its rectangular shape and deep bowl.
A sterling silver sugar spoon should be part of every formal silver coffee or tea set, and no proper coffee or tea table should be without one.
The WMF Tableware and Kitchenware Company explains that sugar spoons can be used not only for serving sugar, but "at the breakfast table, the sugar spoon can also be used for jam."
Collecting Sugar and Demitasse Spoons
Collecting spoons is less expensive than many other types of antique collecting. If you are interested in spoon collecting, Antique Central suggests you select an area of collection. For example, look for spoons with shell motifs or shell-shaped bowls if you like shells. Some people collect spoons from a certain century; or you can choose a country and collect spoons from the place they originated.
Many people focus on spoon use and only collect sugar spoons or demitasse spoons. Sugar spoons, with their uniquely shaped bowls, are popular with spoon collectors, but demitasse spoons, with their often ornately designed handles, are much more varied.
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