Return to Echo Mtn. Echoes, Spring 1999 Cover

Collector's Corner

By Michael Patris

Figural angels often adorned the tops of souvenir spoons at the turn of the century. This beauty was found at a railroad collectibles show in Orange County.

When Mt. Lowe became the national tourist attraction it was at the turn of the century people from the world around wanted to take a small souvenir home to cherish. Some of the most common items that come to mind are the souvenir photo taken on the incline, perhaps some P.E. ticket stubs or maybe a postal card, menu or the Mt. Lowe paper.

At the turn of the century, however, one hobby touched the hearts of thousands of people – spoon collecting. These sterling silver reminders of places seen or visited have been passed down generation by generation and have a growing popularity with younger people today.

These souvenir spoons can have engraved or embossed bowls depicting the Mt. Lowe incline, circular bridge or Alpine Tavern. Some have designs on the handle or even on the back of the handle. One popular treatment was to have a "gold wash" put on the spoon; while others were enameled and fired with a beautiful high gloss color applied to them.

Some spoons have only Mt. Lowe related topics on them while others may have other local attractions featured like the Green Hotel, Cawston Ostrich Farm, San Gabriel Mission or even the California state seal.

The most interesting ones have things like angels on the handle or women in gowns; some angels are playing a trumpet, some women are picking oranges and some handles are of indians with a full head dress of feathers. Others have flowers like California poppies or roses. One special spoon has a swastika on it. No, not a nazi spoon, but the American Indian good luck symbol. Even a mule has been seen.

More than one hundred different designs have been reported, and some even have matching forks.

Spoons with engraved bowls can be interesting. Some have been engraved by a jeweler and have "Mt. Low" on them – no "E" on Lowe. Although misspellings are rare, they do exist.

This is just a small part of Michael Patris' 51 piece spoon collection which is ever-growing

Looking for the spoons can be an adventure all by itself. While asking vendors at flea markets if they have any Mt. Lowe souvenir spoons the typical response is "no" or "Mt. what?" The best way is to take the whole basket of spoons, dump them out and go through them one at a time. Although it is time consuming the various spoons can be quite interesting. More times than not dealers don't know what they have and the single Mt. Lowe related spoon in the bunch makes the whole day worth while. Even if no Mt. Lowe related spoons are found the ones you do find are interesting. Charlie McCarthy, American Airlines, Catalina Island are also great ones but a word of warning must be given. Spoon collecting is extremely contagious. One spoon soon becomes dozens which turn in to thousands - literally - so enjoy the hunt, but watch out! You may become addicted.

Michael Patris is an avid Mt. Lowe collector with 51 different Mt. Lowe spoons and a few Mt. Lowe forks. Although his collection is not for sale, sometimes he has duplicate spoons for sale. You can contact him through his "wanted" ad in the "Echoes."

Return to Echo Mtn. Echoes, Spring 1999 Cover

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Last modified: February 12, 1999

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Jake Brouwer
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Copyright 1999