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Lot 40, Auction 5/18/2017: Roman Silver Spoon (Cochlearium)

$933.75
Roman, later Imperial Period, ca. 3rd to 4th century CE. An ornate spoon made from solid silver, one of the finest examples of a cochlearium that we have seen. The bowl is shaped like a rounded flask in cross section, and the handle narrows slightly at the end for use in extracting snails or seafood from their shells. The bowl is joined to the handle by a tightly curved, thick piece of silver. Comes with custom stand. (32.4 g) Size: 1.25" W x 5.75" H (3.2 cm x 14.6 cm); height on stand: 5.8" (14.7 cm).

The spoon is a fascinating cultural object, often a prized personal item at a time when the average person owned very little; spoons made of precious metal were so highly valued that they were often listed in inventories of noble households. In fact, they were so treasured that cochlearia made of silver have been found in treasure hoards. From the British Hoxne Hoard, which is the largest collection of late Roman silver and gold found in Britain (and contains the largest collection of gold and silver coins from that time period found anywhere in the Roman Empire), we know that spoons of a later date, from the Christian period, are usually inscribed with Chi-Rhos or other Christian symbols. The lack of inscription on this piece suggests that it is from a pre-Christian time or was owned by a pagan family.

Condition: Slight patina on surface. Shape is excellent.

Provenance: Ex-Private London, England collection

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