Jefferson married the young widow Martha Wayles Skelton in 1772 and some of the items that she brought to their household were acquired during her first marriage (1766-68) to Bathurst Skelton. These distinctive pewter spoons are adapted from the 1760s silver spoons that once belonged to Jefferson’s wife. A salt spoon is a miniature utensil used with an open salt cellar for individual service at the table. The unusual handles of the salt spoons appear to be a stylized “S” for Skelton. The teaspoons are ornamented with a spiral gadrooned handle, and the originals were marked with Bathurst and Martha Skelton’s initials.
The silver from the Skelton estate was from at least three known London silversmiths, who would have made these spoons to order in the 18th century. Spoons were made from an ingot of silver which was marked to the correct proportions for the bowl and handle. It was heated until red hot and beaten into shape using a hammer and anvil. During the hand-forging process the spoon would have been struck over 300 hundred times.