Welsh Lovespoons, How do you Determine its Age?

This is one of the questions that has been nagging me for quite a considerable amount of time, “How do you determine the age of a Welsh Lovespoon that is up for sale?”

I have done a lot of research on the subject but not one website has mentioned determining the age of a Lovespoon, they all point to the earliest example being dated 1667 and displayed at the National Folk Museum of Wales. My main concern is how would you determine a Lovespoons age without carbon dating it. In this instance, they probably did, making sure this National Treasure had full authenticity but what if you were to come across a Lovespoon that was advertised as being a vintage Lovespoon without a date carved on or any paperwork to support the claim. A word of mouth from the seller to the buyer or vice-versa.

I suppose you could rely on the patina that had developed over the years but how much build up per year, would it indicate that the piece was fifty, sixty or one hundred years old. With an item such as a Lovespoon the age would determine the price to be paid but for me I would still have that nagging feeling of, is it really that old. There are many modern day methods of aging wood and much of the time these items are being purchased online rather than at a local antiquity shop so you have no real way of making a determination until you acually have the piece.

I have a habit of checking out eBay on a regular basis just incase something fresh appears up for auction. I’m not in the market to buy anything but I’m most interested in the design element, if I see something unique I’m always thinking if I can incorporate a similar element in a unique way to one of my own Lovespoon designs. This week one particular piece caught my eye and it was advertised under antique decorative arts. It stated that it was a Lovespoon from 1850-1899 made from wood. Now I was excited to see something of that age but I was disappointed that there was no way to authenticate the age, no paper work to support the claim even though the patina supported that it had a certain amount of age, claiming it was probably from around 1860.

As you can imagine it brought that same old question to the forefront of my mind again, “Is it genuine.” There was a certain amount of bidding with the price set at $100.00 for the first bid, ending up at just over $127.00 with five bids but had a total of 246 viewings, unfortunately the price did not meet the reserve so again how do you gauge the age of this Lovespoon. I was hoping it would sell as I wanted to have an indication of what the reserve was but maybe because it is was a gamble the bidders were very cautious. The fact that the heading stated “very rare, 19th century lovespoon” prompted people to bid in the first instance, hoping to purchase a piece of history.

For me, from my very first carving I have inscribed my initials together with month and year, taking out all of the guess work. By carving in the date with my initials, such as SA0807 any potential buyer would have an indication of the age. This would indicate that I had carved the piece during the month of August in 2007, that way at any time the owner would at least have some indication of the age and could find out who the carver was. Affixed to each of my carvings is a small placard giving instruction on how to take care of the Lovespoon, together with a small inscription, designed and carved by myself. This may take care of the dating of my own Lovespoons but it still leaves it open for any others and the age old question. “How do you determine the age of a Welsh Lovespoon?”

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