I just learned about antique bon bon spoons. I never knew they existed until a few weeks ago. I think they are absolutely gorgeous. I was so intrigued by the intricacy of these spoons that I had to buy one. We will just call it an early “Mother’s Day” present to myself. The spoon I purchased (pictured above) is a sterling silver spoon in the number 592 pattern by Gorham Silversmiths, c.1880. The handle features a full featured Sea Nymph with the gilt, open work bowl having nude female figures on either side of a roaring lion atop a dove. The rest of the bowl is embellished with shell scroll and floral wreath decorations.
The name bon bons stems from the French word “bon”, which means “good”. If you put the two bons together, you have something doubly good – a goody goody! Bon bon is the universal word in French for candy. Bon bons were all the craze during the late 1880’s when chocolate manufacturing took off. Sterling silver baskets like this one became popular for serving bon bons.
Bon bons were served to the French Royal Court. The Ladies of the Louvre Palace enjoyed their chocolate bonbons and they stored them in beautiful decorative boxes like the very fine antique example below.
The ladies of the court offered their bonbons to others as a sign of courtesy and a gesture of distinction and good taste. One knew if they had fallen out of favor with the King, however, if they were not treated to a bon bon by a Lady. Because there was no preservatives or refrigeration, touching bon bons with your fingers was very messy and thus the bon bon spoon became popular to ensure they could be picked up cleanly, without using one’s fingers.
I love this 1892 Rogers & Bro. ad for bon bon spoons and tongs.
We may not be Ladies of the Court today sitting back and enjoying chocolate bon bons, yet I do believe we can adapt these beautiful bon bon spoons and baskets into our entertaining today. What a lovely way to serve mixed nuts with cocktails before dinner, or perhaps, a serving of mint candies for after dinner.
Are you as fascinated with bon bon spoons as I am? I would love to hear if any of you have bon bon spoons, and if so, how you use them during entertaining.
Leslie Hendrix Wood
Founder, Editor In Chief
Gracious Living. Timeless Design. Family Traditions.