Welsh treen

Part of the collection of 150 pieces of Welsh treen to be offered at Bonhams in Edinburgh on September 27.

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Focusing on love spoons, stay busks and knitting sheaths, it numbers 150 pieces that will be offered across around 60 lots valued at around £50,000 at the Bonhams sale in Edinburgh on September 27.

Often from poor and mostly illiterate communities, men were limited in the ways in which they could plight their troth. The gift of a wood love spoon carved with symbols of marital bliss – an anchor for security, a keyhole for the family home, chain to maintain the link between lovers – was an eccentric means of solving this problem.

These examples, personalised with dates, initials, and romantic inscriptions, are some of the finest and were made in the late 18th and early 19th century before commercial production began.

Collected by a Welsh couple throughout their married life, the collection includes items from a number of well-known British treen groups including pieces from the Shepherd collection sold at Sotheby’s in 1983.