The Frymerson Spoon
Monogrammed, engraved silver
We all know the expression “born with a silver spoon in his mouth”, but among the wealthier families in Friesland this is not merely a figure of speech: for centuries it has been a tradition to give a child a silver spoon at birth.
This silver spoon is one of the finest extant works by Julianus Buissink, Master Silversmith in Leeuwarden from 1765 until 1796. Its detail is remarkable: the wide bowl of the spoon is connected to its stem through a bare-breasted allegorical female nude with long wavy hair reminiscent of a mermaid; the stem itself is made to resemble two rose branches with thorns that intertwine as they curl upwards; the summit of the stem is surmounted by two fish heads facing outwards, which in turn are mounted by a pedestal with two very delicately sculpted statuettes: a king and queen holding hands. For a silver spoon that is 248 years old – these objects tend to be over-polished – the intactness of its design is a sheer feast for the eyes.
So who was the lucky baby to be given this spoon?
If we turn the spoon over, we find that, at the bottom of the stem, Buissink has engraved his initials I.B. Along the edge of the bowl he has engraved in an elegant, flowery hand the following inscription: “1773 den 8 November is geboren Gorrijt Doues Obbema” (“On 8 November 1773 was born Gorrijt Doues Obbema”). A later, dotted inscription reads: “Sjoerd Gorrits Obbema”.
This allows us to trace the provenance of the spoon: it was a gift to Gorrit Douwes Obbema, presumably given to him by his father, the prominent Friesian statesman Douwe Fokeles Obbema (1746-1817). Gorrit grew up and lived at Zilverstraat 25 in Franeker, Friesland. From his second marriage with Dieuwke Maurits Rollema, Gorrit Obbema had one son: Sjoerd Gorrits Obbema (Bolsward, 8 August 1822 – Oudega, 18 November 1904). The spoon was passed on to him.
Although Sjoerd Gorrits Obbema had many children of his own, they all died childless. The spoon was eventually acquired by the de Zantis de Frymerson family and its final owner was Johanna de Zantis de Frymerson née jonkvrouwe van der Goes (1921-2016), wife of jonkheer Jean Auguste Theodore Alfred de Zantis de Frymerson. This spoon was part of the art and silver collection that she kept at her home, Frymerson Castle in Sint Odiliënberg, Limburg. The spoon has been acquired from her estate and is one of the most significant works of silver that she owned.
Presumably a present from Douwe Fokeles Obbema (1746-1817) and Swopkje Gerrits (1750-1810) to their son;
Gorrijt Douwes Obbema (Dongjum, 1773-1824), thence passed down to his son Sjoerd Gorrits Obbema (Bolsward,1822-Oudega, 1904);
Acquired by the de Zantis de Frymerson family and owned by Johanna de Zantis de Frymerson née jonkvrouwe van der Goes (Amersfoort, 1921 – Sint Odiliënberg, 2016), dowager of jonkheer Jean Auguste Theodore Alfred de Zantis de Frymerson.