Spatula

Tongue depressor

about 1760
Paul Revere, Jr. (American, 1734–1818)


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

Dimensions

Overall: 13 cm (5 1/8 in.)

Accession Number

2007.254

Medium or Technique

Silver

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver flatware

This unusual work represents the odd and elegant aspects of a colonial silversmith’s work. The purity and non-reactivity of silver made it a preferred material for medical instruments. Revere’s account books include references to probes, lancets (for bleeding), and spatulas, which probably describes this object. The “Oxford English Dictionary” notes period references to the use of spatulas “for minor surgical operations or for the medical examination of certain organs.” In 1755, “Gentleman’s Magazine” stated that “the tongue … must be loosened with a spatula.”

Provenance

Early history unknown; Towle Company collection, Newburyport, Massachusetts, by 1956; purchased at auction, from A Massachusetts Collection featuring Portrait Miniatures, sale 2349 (Boston: Skinner, February 18, 2007), lot 844.

Credit Line

Marion E. Davis Fund and H.E. Bolles Fund