Dear Helaine and Joe:
My mom asked me to contact you regarding these items. They are marked Georg Jensen, sterling, Denmark. They were given to mom as a gift when I was born some 68-plus years ago. My mom thinks they are utensils that are used by the elderly who need help eating. Any information would be gratefully received.
Dear M. R.:
Georg Jensen was born in rural Raadvad, Denmark, in 1866, the son of a knife grinder. His prospects might have been very limited, but at 14 he was apprenticed to a goldsmith in Copenhagen.
Jensen finished the apprenticeship in 1884 and decided to pursue his artistic interests as a sculptor. His clay sculptures were well received, but they did not pay the bills. Jensen worked for a while as a modeler for the famous ceramic company Bing and Grondahl. From there the talented young man opened a pottery workshop with Christian Petersen as his partner.
This too was well received, but it did not pay the bills. From 1901 to 1903 Jensen was workshop foreman for silversmith Mogens Ballin, but Jensen was a widower with two small children to support and in 1904 he decided to take what little capital he had and gamble on opening his own silversmithing company.
There are stories about Jensen melting silver over a small stove in his early years. There was no money to buy large quantities of silver and spoons, and small serving pieces were all that could be made – but each piece was made to exacting standards by hand. Today we found 1,197 Jensen stores around the globe. This illustrates that from small beginnings, great things can grow.
Jensen met Johan Rohde (1856-1935), who was a painter, graphic artist and designer, in 1903 when Rohde commissioned Ballin to make a flatware set Rohde had designed. When Jensen opened his own silversmith enterprise, he entered into a collaboration with Rohde, who designed several patterns for Jensen.
The first was called “Acorn” and was first shown at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition held in San Francisco. It became Jensen’s most popular pattern and is still being produced. The two pieces in today’s question are in the Acorn pattern. One is described as a curved handle baby spoon, but it does resemble a device that is sometimes called an “invalid feeder.”
The other piece is a “food pusher,” and it could be used by both the very young and the very old. But we think 68 plus years ago, the pieces were intended for use by a small child learning to feed themselves. Replacements.com lists the sterling silver baby spoon at $150 and the food pusher at $120.
New curved handle baby spoons and food pushers made by Jensen are higher priced than this, and it is possible to find examples on the internet with higher prices. But Replacements.com prices appear in our research to be mid-range and reasonable.
Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written a number of books on antiques. Do you have an item you’d like to know more about? Contact them at Joe Rosson, 2504 Seymour Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917, or email them at [email protected]. If you’d like your question to be considered for their column, please include a high-resolution photo of the subject, which must be in focus, with your inquiry.