A Spoon That Got Around . . .
This silver serving spoon has been on view in The Story of Virginia exhibition for the last five years. The title of the label caught my eye one day, “A Spoon That Got Around,” and now the silver spoon is about to “get around” some more. Here is the label text for this silver spoon, to give you an idea of its history:
The spoon is marked “T. T.” for Thomas Tookey with full London hallmarks for the year 1774. It is engraved with the crest adopted by John (“Jackie”) Parke Custis, son of Martha Washington (by her first husband) and stepson of George Washington. It was used at Mount Airy in Maryland, where Jackie Custis first lived with his wife Eleanor Calvert. Then it was used at White House plantation in New Kent County, Virginia. The spoon passed by inheritance to George Washington Parke Custis, who grew up at Mount Vernon and later built Arlington. There it was used by his daughter Mary Anna Randolph Custis, who married Robert E. Lee. They left Arlington at the beginning of the Civil War and buried much of their family silver at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington. After the war it was recovered and the spoon was at the president’s house at Washington College (now Washington and Lee University), where Lee was president from 1865 to 1870. The spoon then passed to Robert E. Lee, Jr., Mary Custis Lee, and by descent in the family until purchased by the Virginia Historical Society in 2005.
This spoon will be featured in the VHS’s exhibition, An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia. The exhibition, a signature project of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, will open at the society on February 4, 2011, and be on display there until the end of the year.
This “Spoon That Got Around” . . . will continue its journey around Virginia when the exhibition travels to museums in Winchester, Lynchburg, Hampton, Roanoke, Quantico, Abingdon, and Appomattox between 2012 and 2015.
Rebecca A. Rose is the Registrar at the Virginia Historical Society.