A SMALL COLLECTION OF ANTIQUE SILVER
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THE WHAT IS? SILVER DICTIONARY

MOTE SPOON
MOTE SKIMMER

The silver mote spoon (silver mote skimmer) is a type of spoon having a bowl with a pierced pattern of small holes, used to skim off floating particles of tea leaves and motes (tea dust) from a cup of tea. The handle is thin and tapering, with a sharpened point.
These strainer spoons are almost exclusively English, they are not common in Scotland, Ireland or on the continent of Europe, although a few were made in America.
Their production in England was almost entirely confined to London workshops and this production continued until about the seventeen seventies.
They were referred to as tea strainers in the Plate Offences Act of 1738 and in other documentary references throughout the 18th century but how exactly they were used has remained a mystery.
In the 19th century they were renamed 'mote spoons' or 'mote skimmers' and this name has stuck (courtesy David McKinley/ASCAS).

silver mote spoon: Hester Bateman 1775

They are one of the most unusual and intriguing forms of collectable spoon and it's purpose has caused much debate. The use as a punch, tea or lemon strainer, sugar sifter, olive spoon, caddy spoon and others have all been put forward as possible uses, but the most likely use was to skim the surface of tea with its pierced bowl. Mote spoons are generally teaspoon sized and were made from the late 17th Century through to the 1770ís. The pierced bowls vary from simple round holes to elaborate decoration

silver mote spoon: Hester Bateman 1770 silver mote spoon: Hester Bateman 1770
silver mote spoon: John Clarke I 1725 silver mote spoon: John Clarke I 1725
silver mote spoon: London 1720 silver mote spoon: London 1720
silver mote spoon: London 1725 silver mote spoon: London 1725
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