Survey of Catalina souvenir spoons by Harry V. Merrick
To try to create some order out of the chaos of the Catalina souvenir spoon universe, we can recognize two broad categories of Catalina souvenir spoons, 1) those spoons whose reference to Catalina has been designed into the spoon at the point of manufacture, and 2) those spoons whose reference to Catalina has been added to the spoon later, usually by engraving, by a secondary party. All of the very earliest Catalina souvenir spoons with inscriptions and Avalon scenes fall into this latter category, and apparently such spoons continued to be made through the first two decades of the 20th century. Eventually these hand engraved spoons were entirely replaced by the later mass manufactured variety of Catalina spoons. Potentially almost any of hundreds of silversmiths could have their spoons engraved with Catalina elements, while only a limited number of manufacturers produced spoons with designed Catalina elements. Surely some of the fun of pursuing Catalina souvenir spoons is the almost infinite variety of pattern spoons with varying Catalina elements! Always something new to discover!
The spoons whose reference to Catalina is designed at the manufacturing stage, can be divided into two categories: 1) “Specialty” Catalina spoons which display Catalina attractions and landmarks as part of their basic handle design, and 2) “pattern” spoons whose bowls display an embossed scene of Avalon Bay or other Catalina landmarks. Pattern spoons exhibit a broad range of themes on their handles. Flowers and fruits are common, sea shore images, Native Americans, miners and mining, southern California attractions, California Missions, and general California symbols and attractions, all regularly occur with an Avalon Bay scene embossed on their bowls.
The following sections focus on the earlier, pre 1950, American made sterling souvenir spoons. The various types of spoons (eg. teaspoon, demitasse, etc.), which have been found with Catalina elements are enumerated and defined. Followed by a survey of Catalina souvenir spoons organized by manufacturers. In the manufacturers’ sections brief notes provide some historical background on the firm, accompanied by illustrations of some of their spoons. Both broad categories of spoons, those modified by engraving alone, and those with manufactured Catalina elements, are illustrated with typical examples.