History & Meanings
The custom of making and giving of Lovespoons originated in Wales as early as the Seventeenth Century. Some fine examples can be found both in the Brecon Museum and The Museum of Welsh Life, Cardiff. The latter exhibiting the earliest dated Lovespoon, 1667.
The Lovespoon developed from a kitchen utensil known as a 'Cawl' spoon. This was a ladle type spoon with a long curved handle and a deep oval shaped bowl, usually made from sycamore wood. The main function of the spoon was to serve the 'Cawl' a type of broth or soup which would have been the main diet of the peasant folk of those times.
Early Lovespoons showed little decoration except maybe for a simple heart to the handle. As time went on, the handle lost all of its resemblance to that of its culinary predecessor. The spoon now became a love token with much more elaborate carvings depicted on the wider, but still with the all important curved handle, some of which I've listed here, Twisted stem, Balls inside a cage, Links and plenty of decorative fret work and chip carving.
The making and giving of lovespoons in those days was very much akin to how engagement rings are given today. The men folk would while away the long winter evenings whittling away at a Lovespoon with the girl of his fancy in mind. The presenting and acceptance of the Lovespoon was then taken as a betrothal of marriage. The intricacy of the carving showing the donors personality, dexterity and Love for the receiver. In addition demonstrating his skills that could be employed within the future marriage. It must be said that not all of the men folk had the necessary skills or patience to make such an elaborate gift and so would employ the services of a local craftsman, maybe a wheelwright, furniture maker or carpenter. They would then translate his feelings and express his love onto a Lovespoon to give to his chosen one.
Today Lovespoons are given for many different occasions such as Weddings, Anniversaries, and Birthdays or just as a memento of a pleasant stay in Wales.