Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Unusual Artifacts: A Pewter Medicine Spoon, 1850

Gibson Type Pewter Medicine Spoon
Britain, 1850
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This closed medicine spoon, falls under the category of “The Gibson Type.”  It is made of pewter and the handle consists of a flanged hollow tube which is attached to the bowl at a shallow angle.   The bowl of the spoon is enclosed to avoid spillage, with a semicircular, hinged lid (near the handle) through which the medicine could be poured.

The person administering the dose of liquid medicine would place a thumb over the end of the handle, using two fingers to balance the spoon, before placing it in the patient's mouth.  Theoretically, when the thumb was removed, the liquid would flow out through a slit in the outer edge of the bowl.

This bowl was made in the United Kingdom around 1850.  This type of spoon gets its name from being made to the design of Charles Gibson, a London goldsmith who invented a “physic spoon” in 1827.  Gibson demonstrated his invention to a meeting of the Society for the Arts, and was awarded their silver medal for it in 1828.

Plastic variations of this device are still marketed today.

Though not nearly as attractive as it's earlier predecessor, the Gibson spoon proved more accurate in dosing.

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