To the Moon on a Spoon
Very little documentation can be found regarding the origins of this curious memento from the early days of science fiction. This is what I have uncovered.
It is a small sterling silver collector’s spoon that commemorates Jules Verne’s 1865 novel De la terre à la lune (From the Earth to the Moon) in which a group of stalwart adventurers travel to the Moon after being launched into space by a monstrous buried cannon.
Verne’s choice of launch site – Tampa, Florida – has always piqued people’s interest because of its relative proximity to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center from which the first actual manned moon mission was launched just over a century later. I suppose they did not call Jules Verne a visionary for nothing.
The spoon itself is rather diminutive measuring only about 3 7/8 inches (10cm) long with the bowl being about 7/8 of an inch (2.1cm) wide. Made as previously stated of sterling silver, it bears the patent date of 1891 on the handles reverse side and a tiny hallmark that appears to be a striding griffin with its front paw on a round cartouche with a “W” inside. This hallmark belongs to the silver smithing firm Whiting Company of New York (which was later absorbed by the Gorham Company).
The front side of the spoon bears the real interesting stuff. The bowl depicts the violent muzzle blast for the buried cannon and also has “JULES VERNE” spelled out is relief. Curiously, though not all that surprising are the tiny, actually minute figures of people scurrying away from the canon’s erupting muzzle. These figures are so small as to be almost invisible except under magnification.
The shaft of the spoon’s handle bears the inscription “LUNA VIA TAMPA •FLA•”. The upper portion of the handle shows the projectile/capsule hurtling towards the Moon which is appropriately adorned with a man-in-the-moon face.
Interestingly this spoon also appears to have been used as basis for other silver firm’s creative efforts as evidenced by the candy or nut spoon shown below.
Issued by S. B. Leonardi & Company sometime after the 1891 patent date, the original Whiting spoon’s bowl was removed by Leonardi and replaced with the larger pierced bowl characteristic of a nut or candy spoon. It still bears the original Whiting cartouche and patent date but is also counter stamped by the Leonardi firm.
The fully restored version of Georges Méliès 1902 film Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) which was much inspired by Verne’s novel. The film is presented here in its original frame by frame hand applied color and a new musical soundtrack.