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But judging by the keen response and high take-up whenever one of these properties goes under the hammer, supply does not appear to be outstripping demand.

These days it is hard to buy an early spoon of any quality for under four figures. Members of The Finial (the specialist spoon collecting society) and their like are evidently a hungry lot, keen to indulge their passion.

Two collections went under the hammer in the London rooms within the space of two weeks and both were near sellouts. On February 23 Phillips offered 24 lots of early spoons, the majority from one anonymous deceased vendor, a lady who had collected them many years ago, largely from a local West Country dealer. Then on March 6 Bonhams & Brooks put up the 32-lot Winfield collection. Assembled by the late Roland Winfield between 1947 and his death in 1970 and carried on by his wife Christine, who died last year, the Winfields collected spoons as part of a wider interest in antique silver, which was well documented with original receipts. In the case of the spoons they bought from well-known dealers such as How of Edinburgh and Henry Levine, and at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Bonhams produced a well-illustrated catalogue with full provenance notes and offered the original invoices with each lot. They also did plenty of marketing to draw in buyers, including a pre-sale lecture for Finial members and other spoon fanciers.

Phillips’ offering was much lower key treatment, being not even designated as such in the catalogue, and more modest estimates. However, buyers evidently assessed both equally carefully for, despite the different approaches, both collections ended up with high selling rates, with just two lots bought in at Bonhams and one at Phillips. And while the Winfield Collection included some very rare examples that were contested to very high levels, prices for the remainder of the good London and provincial examples proved to be much more comparable in both events, with very little escaping under the £1000 mark.

There was a good mixed turnout of trade and private buyers and competition between both, although in the event the main player at these sales was London spoon specialist John Bourdon-Smith, who buys both for stock and on commission for collectors.