The wild wild world of rare absinthe spoons

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Thru December 2001: The wild wild world of rare absinthe spoons
By Absinthespoon on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 10:53 pm: Edit

Morrigan: I see some auctions on eBay that really bug me. Like the guy selling glasses sets as vintage that are not much older than the brand new ones I sell (hey I tell people exactly what they are buying). Those crappy Losanges spoons like you get from SC are not freakin vintage!

Marc: Thanks so much for the great picture you sent me, and all the info. You are one cool dude.

By Chevalier on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 09:43 am: Edit

Thanks to all for your comments!

Shawn: I agree with you. I'm not complaining; in fact, I enjoy the freewheeling spirit of it all.

Ted: You know Chile! I've not yet been to Concepción, but I've certainly made Pisco's acquaintance. And the wine!

Steve: The museum (called "La Sebastiana") was once the late poet Pablo Neruda's house in the Chilean port city of Valparaiso. Neruda (1904-1973), a man of the world and self-proclaimed sybarite, was appointed Chilean consul to Paris in the late 1930s; he used his position to help refugees of the Spanish civil war by resettling them in Chile.

France, Spain, and poetry must have led him to absinthe, as the Sebastiana museum contains a bar filled with "cordon" glasses and the most amazing antique absinthe fountain I've ever seen. Though perhaps from France, it could very well be from Valparaiso itself, once the most important and prosperous port in South America. Like the fountain in New Orleans' "Old Absinthe House", this one was once a permanent bar fixture with its own piped-in water supply. Made of brass, it has a nautical theme, complete with a ship's wheel; at its top are dishes to hold sugar cubes. As I recall, there are only two spigots, one on each side of the ship's wheel. You can see a fine photo of the fountain -- and a group of absinthe glasses on a shelf behind it -- at www.chileweb.net/valparaiso/neruda.html

Morrigan: Like you, I'm less bothered than intrigued by the rare spoon market and its prices. I suspect that many -- though not all -- of the wrongly identified spoons are offered as such by hopeful, half-informed sellers. eBay (and iBazar, France's version of eBay) is rife with mislabeled objects; and yes, it annoys me too. Still, at least we absinthe collectors (can)have Madame Delahaye's "Les Cuillères" book to set things straight.

A bientôt,
Chevalier

By Morriganlefey on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 10:35 pm: Edit

I am myself a spoon collector, Chevalier. It's not so much the astronomical prices paid for the rare vintage spoons (such as the grillages auction you mention - a VERY rare spoon) that raise my hackles. Rather, it's the "Ugly" auctioneers who try to pass off pea spoons and tea strainers that aren't even very old as "Rare Vintage Silver Absinthe Spoons". (Here's the latest from one of the top shucksters on my hit-list - http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1172487277. At least this time he's questioning it and its lack of reference in Delahaye's book.)

I know I've ranted about these people before, but they need to be flushed-out so new collections aren't continually taken.

- M

By Absinthespoon on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 08:43 pm: Edit

I still would love to see the absinthe fountain you told me about, Chevalier. What's the name of the museum? (wow- imagine what something like that must be worth!)

By Tabreaux on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 08:17 pm: Edit

I don't know, but I do know that next time you go down to Concepcion, there is a great little seafood restaurant called El Rincon Marino. They don't serve absenta, but a little Pisco Control never hurt anyone.

By Spm on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 08:10 pm: Edit

A price guide would be outdated too quickly. The people whom collect the spoons will decide the going market price. You just have to keep up with the (ebay) market if you plan on collecting them.

Shawn

By Chevalier on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 06:31 pm: Edit

Absinthe's "Wild West" -- that post-1915 period of bans and bootleg -- seems these days like Vegas, where the only resident cowboy you'll find is a giant neon sign. Absinthe -- and absinth and absinthe(?) and "absinthe", as insubstantial as tumbleweeds, blow about the field. Disinformation moves them along. P.T. Barnum is here, telling us what's what, and if the truth gets lost in the shuffle, who's to know or care? However ...

There's still a corner of "Absinthe Vegas" where the shootouts are real: spoon collecting. The very rare spoons, I mean. Consider: No price guides on the market, in a world where EVERYTHING has a price guide. (Mme. Delahaye's books talk about love, not francs.) Forgeries everywhere. Recent bidding wars on eBay that rival the OK Corral. (See eBay auction item #1170174167: "French Absinthe Spoon - Very Rare & Old". Thirty-four bids! Try to guess the winning bid price.) The Good (Phil, Mike, Steve, Ian et al), the Bad (forgers--forgers--forgers), and the Ugly (the Maître Forger; but we're on to you).

So ... who's going to spoil the fun and publish a price guide?

-- Chevalier

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