The Goldsmiths' Company's Christmas Spoon
Given to the Company by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, this spoon not only demonstrates the heritage of skilled Danish silversmiths, but also the art of combining craft and Christmas
This charming silver-gilt and enamel Christmas Spoon was given to the Company by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark upon being admitted to the Goldsmiths’ Freedom and Livery on the 5th December 2001. Apart from its obvious attractions, the spoon is significant because she designed the enamelled image of the Christ Child on the finial, which was made by A. Michelsen in 1984.
Michelsen, the Danish Crown Jewellers for many years, produced the first commemorative Christmas Spoon in 1910. Each spoon in the series is designed by a different Danish artist each year, and these have become popular with collectors across the world. Queen Margrethe’s is the first to be designed by a member of the royal family. The Danish Queen is well known as an artist and is acclaimed for her costume designs, landscape paintings and illustrations, published under the pseudonym Ingahild Grathmer.
Queen Margrethe says of her design:
"My inspiration is the Verdun altar at Klosterneuburg, near Vienna. It is a work in gold and enamel from 1181 by Master Nickolaus of Verdun. In its 59 plaquettes, figures are depicted in gold-plated bronze and niello, with the details of the costumes picked out in blue enamel."
"The altar of Verdun is one of the greatest and most beautiful examples of the Romanesque goldsmiths’ craft, both from the artistic and technical point of view. The close form, which is characteristic of the Romanesque art, appeals to me through its slightly stylised aspect. I think it suits the format of the Christmas Spoon; the decoration should be subordinate to the piece itself, and its use."
Denmark has long been a centre of excellence in silversmithing. The Goldsmiths’ Company holds a number of pieces by Danish makers, including Henning Koppel for Georg Jensen, and London-based silversmith, Ane Christensen and jeweller Mikala Djørup, who made the first necklace in our City Collection to be worn by the Lady Mayoress of London in 2018-19.
We recently enjoyed a visit to the Goldsmiths’ Company Collection by Anni Nørskov Mørch and Conni Ramskov, curators from the Museum of Gold and Silver at Koldinghus, with whom we have often collaborated on exhibitions, and Elisabeth von Buchwald, curator to Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.
Combining craft and Christmas in the design process to achieve something of significance is extremely difficult, but having a meaningful message of comparable quality is even harder. Luckily, Queen Margrethe holds insight for us as we enter the festive season this year in that things of great beauty go beyond surface adornment, or to put it another way: decoration with moderation.
Happy Christmas and Season's Greetings!