Absinthe spoons helped release the ‘green genie'
Published: Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 11:48 a.m.
Q: I recently received a set of silver from my great-aunt. In the case with the silver were a few additional pieces of silver of different patterns. Among these were two large spoons with holes in the bowls. In the attached photos, I have included a serving spoon to give you some idea of the size and scale of the other spoons. I would appreciate any information you can give me.
— K.E., Internet
A: Due to the crook in the handles, I think your two spoons with little holes in the bowl are absinthe spoons. Absinthe was a popular drink during the 19th and early 20th century. It was a green liquor that had hallucinogenic properties and often was referred to as the Green Genie. It was poured into the bottom of an absinthe glass, the perforated absinthe spoon was placed on top of the glass with a lump of sugar, cold water was poured over the sugar cube, sweetening the absinthe and releasing a light green genie-like swirl. Absinthe was especially fashionable in Paris at the turn of the century among some of the most famous artists, writers, poets of the day, as well as the art crowd.
Absinthe spoons were made in a variety of quality and styles. They were mass-produced for use in neighborhood cafes and hotels. The fancy decorated open-work spoons in sterling are highly sought after by collectors and sell into the high hundreds. I will assume your two commercial-grade quality spoons are not marked. Potential dollar value is $5 to $10 each.
Q: I have had the chest in the photo for more than 20 years. It was purchased from an antique store. It is in excellent condition, and measures 48 inches long by 22 inches wide by 36 inches high. It is a very heavy piece. I think it is very old, as it has what looks like handmade dovetails, original brass hardware and casters, turnip feet, etc. I researched some of Sheraton's designs, but I am stumped by the carved plume style motif and the beading across the bottom. It is a very beautiful piece and has really never been used. Any information would be appreciated.
— J., Internet
A: During the first quarter of the 20th century furniture manufacturers returned to earlier period styles for inspiration. They produced their version of these styles, often combining or adding in elements to their own taste, or what they thought the public would buy. I think your chest of drawers was made in America, circa 1930s. It does reflect Sheraton-style elements, Eastlake, Georgian, and a little French with the quasi-French fleur-de-lis at the center of one drawer. Current market interest in this type of furniture is very soft, leaving potential dollar value at the bargain level.
Q: My mother recently found a set of dishes that may hold some value. I am hoping you can help me sell them or guide me in the right direction. I believe there is a full set of dishes.
— I.R., Internet
A: The photograph of your dishes is not very clear. The set was made in Bavaria as marked, likely in the early 20th century. There is no specific collector interest. Dollar value is relative to interest in the pattern in the china replacement market. One place that might be interested is Replacements Ltd. in Greensboro, N.C. The phone number is 800-REPLACE. Good luck.
John Sikorski is an Ocala antiques dealer. He hosts a call-in radio show, "Sikorski's Attic,'' on WUFT-FM (89.1 FM). It can be heard each Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. Send your questions to Sikorski's Attic, c/o The Gainesville Sun, 2700 SW 13th St., Gainesville, FL 32608-2015; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.