They weren’t just a flash in the pan. What was once known as a “novelty” has been around for over a century now. The jigger spoons shown in the photo below are available for sale at my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/queenofsienna.
The oldest ad I could find for something that looks like a jigger spoon dates back to 1914.
The ad shown above came from the December 1914 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. This “silver cocktail spoon whose handle forms a cup to measure the ingredients for the drinks”, later a/k/a jigger spoon, was offered by Chatillon Co., Inc.
The jigger spoon shown above, and its accompanying cocktail mixer, are my favorite. I love the combination of etched glass and silver on both. This ad came from a 1915 issue of Harper’s Bazaar.
The Mark Cross ad shown above came from a 1915 issue of Vanity Fair. The jigger portion is described as being a “frosted-design glass” and looks remarkably similar to the Chatillon design in the ad above it. The spoon and handle are “of Prince’s silver plate” which is a trademark used by Mappin & Webb, an English company. It could be that Mappin & Webb manufactured jigger spoons even earlier with their own mark.
The earliest mention that I could find of the term “jigger spoon” was in a 1924 issue of Theatre Magazine and it was sterling. The term “jigger spoon” was also mentioned in a 1931 Meriden, Connecticut newspaper article about pilots visiting the area who were given “silver jigger spoons” manufactured by the Napier Company.
The earliest patent that I could find for a jigger spoon design didn’t appear until 1931. James A. Lavin didn’t call it a Jigger spoon, he called it a bulk measuring device. But it sure looks like a Jigger spoon to me…except for that weird little cover sitting on the Jigger. Unfortunately, his patent description doesn’t shed much light on the intent of this device other than bulk measurement! One of the jigger spoons available at my Etsy shop is marked Lavin & Lauer.
Of course, always looking to improve on an idea, by the second half of 1931 the “three-in-one spoon” was being marketed. A jigger and spoon wasn’t enough…a bottle opener had to be incorporated into the design. Snippets of newspaper articles are shown above documenting this.
The 1932 Alfred Flauder patent shown above combines a jigger (top hat) and spoon as well as a cork screw and bottle opener. Four-in-one; truly a novelty!
The Flauder design was marketed as the “Jolly Good Mixer”. It was manufactured by W. B. Mfg. Co., Bridgeport, Conn.
The jigger spoon design took another update in the 1940s with the addition of a stepped jigger and spring valve. Pour the liquid into the jigger and press the spoon against the bottom of the glass and voila, the liquid flows down into the glass. Seems a little too contrived to me, but what do I know? The images above show ads for this new, supposedly improved, jigger spoon.
Time marches on and the Jigger spoon continued to be updated. In addition to the sterling and silverplated designs, aluminum, chrome and stainless steel appeared on the market as shown in the above ads.
And that brings us to today, 105 years since it all began (as far as we know). Reed & Barton (now owned by Lenox) is currently offering the stainless steel jigger spoon shown above, claiming it has that 1920s look. Long live the jigger spoon!