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The Story of Lovespoons, Gallery and
The meaning of the symbols/carvings

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It is generally believed that the lovespoon originated in Wales hundreds of years ago and the earliest example, from 1677, is kept at the Museum of Welsh Life (also known as the Welsh National Folk Museum) at St. Fagans in Cardiff.  It is not known when the custom of making lovespoons started and it is possible that many undated pieces could be even older than this specimen. 

At a time when most people could neither read nor write, they used symbols.  Wood furniture was made by hand and then carved with hearts, flowers, animals, birds or shapes.  Lovers would cut a heart into the bark of a tree and put their initials inside.  Most utensils were wood with spoons for eating made from sycamore or birch as these do not absorb flavours, do not taint the food and can withstand repeated washing and drying.  The lovespoon developed from the “cawl” (Welsh broth or soup) spoon which was curved and long-stemmed with a hook at the top, and the bowl was big and deep.

At some point, the giving of spoons as a token to a beloved was begun and the different symbols used came to represent many meanings.  Young men would carve a spoon and offer it to a girl they desired, who would perhaps have been given tokens by several of her suitors.  If she accepted his advances they began courting and this could be how the expression “spooning” or “to spoon” came about. 

The practice of giving spoons as a gift on marriage can be found in Celtic lands, Iceland, Switzerland, Scandinavia and Yugoslavia, and ancient Britons carried one on the day of marriage.  However, there is no evidence that the Welsh lovespoon was given as a marriage spoon.  Different areas of Wales tended to have designs related to the area or their trade.  For example, men from coastal areas carved ships and fish such as salmon, while men from inland would carve vines, flowers and wheat; however, specific patterns were not confined to particular areas and many depicted geometric designs.  Sometimes inscriptions were written on paper which was then inserted under a glazed panel. 

The more decorative spoons would be made of any available wood and it is not unusual to find them made of yew, boxwood, oak, laburnum or even thorn and fruit woods, including wild cherry, as well as lime, beech, elm, rosewood, sweet chestnut, walnut, mahogany and sometimes olive wood.  All chosen for their colour, texture and grain.  The practice of giving lovespoons was widespread during the 18th and 19th centuries.  In more modern times lovespoons have been bought as a souvenir and memento of a visit to Wales.  However, the tradition of giving them as a token of affection has seen a revival and it is now possible to commission a lovespoon with your own choice of carvings and motifs.  They can be given as gifts for a christening, wedding, engagement, birthday, anniversary, etc.

Some spoons are only a few inches long whereas others can be as much as 3 feet in length but they are traditionally all made from a single piece of wood (“spon” in old English).  Usually the handle is highly decorated with a single bowl although double bowls are popular and some are triple bowled. 

The lovespoons in the gallery below were all crafted by Robert Chard and are displayed here with kind permission.        Back to top and Quick Links


Display board of Lovespoons (1 of 25)




American eagle

Symbol of USA


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I desire to settle down or
Security or
Steadfastness or
Home to stay and the desire to settle down


Number of children or
Number of years together

Balls in cage

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Two balls in a cage, two enclosed together or
Love held safe or
Captured love or
Number of children desired or
Years together

Barley sugar twist

Derived from the sailors carving


Number of children desired


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A wedding – to ring out loud or
Marriage or
Anniversary or
Together in harmony


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Let’s go away together or
Lovebirds – bring in food as I will provide for you or
Lovebirds – peaceful and tranquil love or
Dove – Christian symbol of peace

Bowl – heart-shaped bowl

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Affection or
Full and bountiful life or
As heart/s

Bowl - Split bowl in a heart shape

Two united in one love

Celtic designs

From the old Celtic patterns
Twisted – never ending in love


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Together forever or
Loyalty, faithfulness or
A joining together or
A wish to be together forever

Chain links

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Captured love or
Number of children desired or
Years together or
Linking of lives or
Loyalty and faithfulness

Coal and sugar

Placed on the spoon – domestic happiness or
Coal for warmth and sugar for sweetness

Comma shapes

Soul signs representing deep affection


Horn of plenty


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God’s blessing or
Celtic Cross of Wales or
Faith or
Marriage or

Crossed keys

Key to the heart or
Key to our home security


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Symbol of Wales or
Growing together or
Blossoming in love or
A gift of love or


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Wealth of love or
Wealth promised or
Riches together or
Good fortune or

Double spoon

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Together as one in love or
The couple or
Togetherness or
The couple together forever


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Strength or
Protection or
Symbol of Wales


Three feathers of Wales – to give service
Making a nest/home together as birds in a nest – warm and snug in love

Fish (Ichthys) Christian fish symbol


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Growing together or
Gift of love or
Affection or
Gardening together or
Joy of nature or
Courtship or
Gentleness and growth

Foliage Growing and flourishing together


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Fulfilment of love or wishes or
Fulfilment of children or
Hope for a long and fruitful life


Love grows

Hands Friendship


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Welsh harp – traditional Welsh instrument or
Love of music or
Music of love


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Love, affection – love returned or
I love you or
My heart is yours or
True love or
Sharing a bountiful life or
Love me as I love you – happy together
Entwined hearts – reciprocal love
Fretted heart is absence of real affection or
Don’t break my heart


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Lucky or
Good luck or

House Holding key to heart or home


Two interlocked as in love together or
Given with love

Jacobean twist



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Home or
You hold the key to my heart or
My house is yours or


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Key to our home or
My house is yours or

Knot or Celtic Knot work

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Together forever or
Everlasting or
Eternal love
Celtic knot – A wish to be joined


Light up our love or
I would like to see you


Growing love or
Love grows

Leaves – Oak leaves

Strength of love or
Protective love

Leaves – Acanthus Leaf

Love grows

Leaves – Vine leaf

Long and fruitful life


Symbol of Wales or growing in love


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Hitched together or linked in love or
We cannot be separated or
Number of children desired


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You are locked in my heart or
Locked together or
My house is unlocked for you or
Security or
I shall look after you or


Sometimes added as meaning
Seeing the reflection of my heart’s desire




Together forever


Dates or
Names of the loved one


Hitched together or
Joined together in love


Symbol of Ireland

Shepherd’s crook

Guidance through life


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Badges or
Places or


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Wait for me or
Safe harbour or
Smooth passage through life

Ship's rudder Promise to lead or guide safely during life together

Ship’s wheel or wheel

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Guided through life or
Softly or
Wheel of life

Soul sign/s (commas)

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God is love or
Bless us or


I will work for you or
Working together


I see you only

Stork & Baby

New baby

Tree of life

A growing relationship or
Growth and fertility

Triple spoons

The couple and hoped for family or

Twisted stem

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Joining together of two people or
Two lives become one or


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Twists and grows stronger as it grows – so does love or
Love grows or
Growing relationship


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I will work for you or
Supporting a loved one or
Promise to guide the loved one through life or
Wheel of good fortune

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