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Souvenirs, Popular Category in Collecting

Hopefully, despite the ongoing pandemic and rise of the delta variant, you got away to a vacation spot this summer.

Souvenir and travel treasures are an important part of the collecting world. Spoons, plates, mugs, T-shirts, pennants, postcards and china are just a few of the items people seek while on vacation.

Souvenir china is an antique keepsake. Perhaps you’ve seen the small decorative china items gleaming with far away scenes at your local antique shop. Usually made in Germany, these dishes, figural animals, fish and birds are highly glazed and often trimmed in gold.

Mass produced between 1890 and the mid-1930s, this collectible china includes scenes of yesterday in cities around the world. Occupations, mills, libraries, courthouses, railroads and churches also are found on these charming plates, cups and dishes.

Collectors will often focus on a particular topic of interest, like their hometown or occupation. Nostalgic and artistic, each piece of souvenir china is marked on the back with a stamp that shows where it was made, the factory name and the company it was imported for.

According to Laurence Williams who wrote a collectible book on this kind of china, this type of mark became the standard after 1891, due to the McKinley Tariff Act that required that the country of origin be shown on all imports.

Another popular souvenir item from yesterday is silver spoons. Popularized as a result of the Paris Exposition of 1889, souvenir spoons have an interesting background. First called Apostle spoons, they were keepsake gifts from godparents during the 15th century.

These lovely spoons would show figures and symbols representing the saints and apostles and were given to fortunate children at the time. Popular both in Tudor England and in Europe, spoons remained the gift of christening choice for hundreds of years until the Protestants deemed them images of idolatry.

Finally, in the 19th century, the concept of souvenir spoons again became popular and travelers found silver spoons sold at Cathedrals and other landmarks throughout Europe. Today’s collectors might find spoons representing European cities as well as spoons representing spots of interest in the United States.

Highly embossed and often enameled, souvenir spoons are tea or coffee size spoons and show the image of places like Niagara Falls, Yellowstone Park or Williamsburg but they might also show legendary events like the Salem witch trials or George Washington and the Cherry Tree. Some are dated. With the wide variety of topics available on these spoons, it isn’t hard to find one you like and get into the collecting habit.

Another commemorative or souvenir item of interest is ruby flashed pressed glass items, sold in the late 1800s, often at expositions. These lovely mugs, pitchers, toothpick holders and other glass pieces are distinctively flashed with red to create a glass piece that is half ruby glass and half clear.

Souvenirs are attractive to sentimental antique lovers who find these reminders of yesterday sweet to save.

History buffs too enjoy the scenes depicted on souvenir china and spoons since they document our landscape over the past century or more. But the best thing about souvenirs is the sharing that occurs when friends or family ask you about your treasures!


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