Twelve apostles

Twelve apostles

In Brief

Also on Deasy's sideboard is a "spooncase" lined with "purple plush" velvet, containing twelve spoons whose handles represent the "twelve apostles." Apostle spoons had been given to children at christenings since the 16th century, although the tradition was beginning to die out in the early 20th century.

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Spoons were given in sets of 6, 12, or 13 (the last with a "Master spoon" representing Jesus) if the child's godparent could afford that much silver, or singly if not. The fact that Mr. Deasy has a large set (assuming they are not silver plate) suggests that he enjoyed a privileged upbringing.

Thornton notes that in Matthew 10:5-6 Jesus instructs the apostles to preach only to the Jews, not to the gentiles, but Acts 10-11 make clear that they decided to preach "to all the Gentiles" anyway.

JH 2012
Set of 6 English silver apostle spoons, ca. 1880s-1920s, in their original box. Source: