This week’s artifact is a two-piece metal spoon mold, marked with a W for an unknown maker. (A larger photo is at the bottom of this post.) It was used at Falling Green, an estate outside Olney, and was donated by Mary Farquhar Green in the early 1960s. The donor’s surname notwithstanding, Falling Green was named by the Brooke family for their home’s attractive views – or, as Roger Brooke Farquhar Jr. explains, “The pleasing manner in which the land slopes gently away from the house toward the south and east, the verdant fields and meadow in the foreground, and the luxuriant woodland in the distance naturally suggested the name” (Old Homes and History, 1962). Falling Green still stands, and is currently owned by the Olney Boys and Girls Club.
Inside the mold there is a nice teaspoon, still a little rough, with a form of mid-rib handle. How convenient for the curator! But where did this spoon come from? Was it the last spoon made at Falling Green, left in the mold and forgotten? No, that is not the story told by this little spoon. Instead it tells a tale about our work at the Historical Society, one that proves I’m not the first curator here to love the work.
Dr. Henry DeCoursey Adams served as the Historical Society’s volunteer curator in the late 1950s and early 1960s. As far as I can tell, Dr. Adams was responsible for applying the first catalog system to our collections (already over a decade old by the time he took over), which is wonderful. I could wish that he hadn’t used large yellow numbers, as is clearly visible in the photo above… but I must admit that the numbers are, indeed, always clearly visible! Obviously I can’t recommend this technique today, but there are worse things one can do to an artifact. Closer examination shows that Dr. Adams numbered the mold on the outside of one piece and on the inside of the other piece – and then someone, I’m not sure who, painted over the interior number so that it can only be seen in relief (the yellow paint is pretty thick). Thanks to this interior number I was able to tell that the spoon in the mold was made after it was donated to the Society, because the imprint of the painted-over 827 can be seen on the spoon’s bowl. Hey, I’ll take all the artifact-dating clues I can get. Even better, this proves that Dr. Adams was as good as his word; in a letter to Miss Green he said, “I am just curious enough that I may try and find out how to use the spoon mold and make a teaspoon.”