Today I'd like to introduce you to celery vases and spooners (sometimes called spoonholders), if you haven't met them already. Quaint reminders of the past, yet useful today for display, they also make a fun collection. Because glass is the most frequently used material for spooners and celery vases, we're going to focus on glass.
Below we have one tall celery vase and two spooners:
Most glass spooners and celery vases were produced with company designed "patterns" that were named, and that's why you might see them referred to as "pattern glass". "Daisy and Button" is a common glass pattern. The names can be fanciful and descriptive, such as "Eyewinker", which refers to orbs that look like winking eyes in the glass. The amber glass spooner below is called "Thousand Eye and Panel":
Celery vases were a fixture on the table in the late 1800's. They would hold fresh celery in water so people could snack on the celery throughout the day. Spooners were popular during the Victorian era as well. They provided a way to display the household silver and were a sign of hospitality. By the 1930's both celery vases and spooners were out of favor in the modern household, like most Victorian conventions.
The picture below shows a recent grouping I purchased at an estate sale. All are spooners except for the middle vessel in the foreground with the scalloped top, which is a celery vase:
Celery vases will have straight sides to hold the celery upright. A flower vase might have a curvaceous shape or have a narrowing at the top. That's one way to tell the difference between a celery vase and flower vase.
Telling the difference between a celery vase and spooner is fairly simple. Celery vases will be much taller, usually 6" to 9", and if you put a spoon in one the spoon probably won't stick out of the top. Spooners will display your spoon handles nicely, and usually measure 4" to 6", depending on whether or not they have a stemmed base or "foot". The three examples below are all spooners:
Sometimes, spooners can be confused with open sugar bowls and goblets. This is where the line gets a little blurry. A goblet wouldn't have a scalloped top like many spooners have. Open sugar bowls might be smaller than spooners, but not always. Sometimes, you just have to guess!
If you have a pattern glass collector's book/price guide, you might be able to make an ID by finding the specific pattern in the book. Collector books can also be a great source of additional information such as which glass companies produced the various patterns, and when. The book below helps one identify celery vases:
You'll find that some patterns are rare, and some are common, such as "Daisy and Button". I'm going to have to look up the pattern below because I don't know it offhand:
While doing a little online research for this post, I came across the Victorian Pattern Glass Spooner Store, which is fun to peruse as well as educational.
In the grouping below, one of the spooners has begun to turn lavender (left). This is a chemical reaction from glass being in the sun, and an indication of age.
For a long time, celery vases and spooners weren't being reproduced. But several years ago the Dept. 56 gift wares company produced some, so be aware of that.
The example on the left, below, is called "popcorn". The spooner on the right is the "Daisy and Diamond" pattern.
Besides a lavender coloration that won't be present on all old glass pieces, signs of age include scratches on the foot from normal use and bubbles and imperfections in the glass.
Celery vases can be used for celery, of course, or for flowers:
Pattern glass spooners and celery vases were made in molds, not hand blown. There are "art glass" spooners and celery vases, and cut glass, but by far the most common glass spooners and celery vases will be pattern glass.
Once you "train" your eye to look for them, spooners and celery vases will seem to come out of the woodwork at estate sales and vintage retail establishments.
Yes, I've had a lot of spooners and celery vases pass through my hands!
I hope you learned a bit about celery vases and spooners today. Perhaps you can add one or two to your household for a nice reminder of times gone by.