Please help determine if this is a shell spoon/utensil.

PetesPockets55

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I found this shell the first weekend of Oct. while metal detecting. I'm surprised any part of it is intact but lucky for me it was in sandy soil.

I originally hung onto it because of the dark blue almost black color on one end. The color didn't appear normal and it seemed to be on the surface. I found a second shell (different style) with a splash of the same color in the same hole.

(I have as many images to share as you guys need.)

Front (concave side)
NA-Spoon-Concave-9.JPG


Back (convex Side)
NA-Spoon-Convex-4.JPG


Here's an up-close of the Blue/black area. A hook is at the bottom left of the edge leading from the "hook" that appears shaped and ground/polished.
The blue area seems to be in the natural position where a thumb would rest on a right-handed person. The color might be a coincidence and not some kind of pigment but I can't remember seeing this color blue come through on an otherwise white shell.
NA-Spoon-Concave-21-Blue.JPG

Another closeup of the "elbow".
NA-Spoon-Concave-28-Hook-Elbow-Polished.JPG

On the convex side (which is stained a rusty color) are what appear to be cuts in the shell at the "elbow". One set of cuts are parallel to the edge of the shell and the second set are at 90 degrees to the first set.
NA-Spoon-Convex-17-Elbow-CutMark.JPG

NA-Spoon-Convex-19-Elbow-CutMarks-RightAngles-Arrows.jpg

NA-Spoon-Convex-20-Elbow-CutMarks-RightAngles-Arrows.jpg



Here is the shell as I believe it would have been held.
NA-Spoon-Concave-11-ThumbFingerLocation-600pix.jpg


NA-Spoon-Concave-32-Holding.JPG


Maybe it's wishful thinking on my part but from what I've retained from you folks sharing your knowledge I think the exhibits signs of deliberate tooling along the edge by the "hook" and the "elbow" and it seems very smooth. It is very comfortable to hold, well proportioned, and get to the mouth as well.

Please let me know your thoughts and I'll try to be diligent about replying but I have a lot going on this weekend with a two day class.

ps. Please let me know how the image size is to you all. With this new format, I'm still trying to get adjusted.

Thanks for looking, commenting, and any insight. PP55
 
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Tnmountains

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Hey Pete
It would be hard to say that is was used I think even if found in context. I see what you are seeing and have had to toss many that were not. I even tossed a polished green stone platter I thought was natural and soon as it hit the water I realized my mistake. I do not even want to think about it now.
Good eye and keep looking and do not stop picking up the unusual pieces. Thanks for the effort you put in that post.
It is easy to quickly dismiss good intentions.
 

Lost Signal

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I guess there's no way to prove it definitively, but I think it's a spoon. We find many whelk fragments in plowed fields, and the part that remains is always the inner, tight part of the spiral. It has a much thicker wall than the outer edge, which is the bowl of your spoon. I can't see one breaking down naturally that way.
It looks like most of the inner spiral has been deliberately cut away, leaving just enough for a handle.
I don't know if that is a documented artifact-type, but that's how I would make a spoon if I was living off of the land.
 
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PetesPockets55

PetesPockets55

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Pass the soup.
LOL. Oyster stew, please!
what do you see it used as?
Thanks Uncle Mac. I'm thinking it was used as a utensil for eating or scooping. It's only about 2" across originally, which seems to indicate a utensil for an individual as opposed to a ladle or measuring device. I originally picked it up due to the blue color, thinking it might be man-made pigment. I'm not really sure if the pigment is mostly on the surface or goes deeper as the animal built its shell.

But as I took images of it and handled it realized the "hook" and "elbow" had been worked. There is a dark area on the edge that looks to be where it originally broke. (Brown and jagged)
Hey Pete
It would be hard to say that is was used I think even if found in context. I see what you are seeing and have had to toss many that were not. I even tossed a polished green stone platter I thought was natural and soon as it hit the water I realized my mistake. I do not even want to think about it now.
Good eye and keep looking and do not stop picking up the unusual pieces. Thanks for the effort you put in that post.
It is easy to quickly dismiss good intentions.
Thanks Tnmountains.
I didn't have many hopes that I'd be able to determine what caused the bluish coloration but when I saw the cut marks around the elbow it got me wondering and trying to remember what to look to determine if it's manmade. And as I handled it I realized how comfortable it was to use as a "spoon" for eating. When the part of the shell that forms the "hook" was cut, the blade seems to have continued onto the surface of the shell and kind of parallel to the bumpout for the bowl. I actually saw the score marks first on the shell that are perpendicular to those marks and pointing at the "elbow".
I guess there's no way to prove it definitively, but I think it's a spoon. We find many whelk fragments in plowed fields, and the part that remains is always the inner, tight part of the spiral. It has a much thicker wall than the outer edge, which is the bowl of your spoon. I can't see one breaking down naturally that way.
It looks like most of the inner spiral has been deliberately cut away, leaving just enough for a handle.
I don't know if that is a documented artifact-type, but that's how I would make a spoon if I was living off of the land.
Thanks LostSignal for your insight as well.
Finding those whelk fragments out of their normal location is interesting They certainly wouldn't have crawled there on their own.

This is probably the first thing I've found that has some tooling marks, aside from pottery shards.

A couple of more images.
NA-Spoon-Concave-34-SimulatedBowl.JPG

NA-Spoon-Convex-8-DarkEdge.JPG
NA-Spoon-Concave-25-Hook-Elbow.JPG
 
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PetesPockets55

PetesPockets55

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"Hopefully Tom will see this post & give you his insights. Shell tools are abundant here in Fl. but normal wear from the environment can do a lot of changes to them. It does look like a handy little spoon."

Thanks NewnanMan. I hope so as well.
With the new site layout and improvements, it's hard to know who may have gotten frustrated trying to find the old familiar places. hopefully all the old regulars like you will be be around to offer insight and knowledge. ( I wasn't calling you old, but experienced. LOL)
 

joshuaream

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TnMountains mentioned it, but context might push the needle one way or another.

In the Midwest and piece of Whelk would have transported there (in ancient times or more recently), in Florida piece of Whelk is pretty darned common and can look old in a couple of years with beach churn or old dredging activities.
 

ARC

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Pete... its a stretch... :)
I can tell you this...
Seashells color from inside out... and this could be a normal color pattern caught in this spot when it died.
I have seen many shells with this color in various stages on shells... and they do not hang around on beaches long because this is the most desirable color looked for by shell collectors... EVEN 1000 years ago it was desired.

So hard ro tell... but definitely possible.
 
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PetesPockets55

PetesPockets55

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TnMountains mentioned it, but context might push the needle one way or another.

In the Midwest and piece of Whelk would have transported there (in ancient times or more recently), in Florida piece of Whelk is pretty darned common and can look old in a couple of years with beach churn or old dredging activities.
Thanks joshuaream. Whelk shells are everywhere down here.
TnMountains mentioned it, but context might push the needle one way or another.

In the Midwest and piece of Whelk would have transported there (in ancient times or more recently), in Florida piece of Whelk is pretty darned common and can look old in a couple of years with beach churn or old dredging activities.
Found about 15' from the lagoon edge and potentially deposited here when the lot was raised about 2' above the shore. No pottery nearby but maybe someone can add if this red coloration on this other shell found nearby is just staining, pigments, or caused by fire as one person has suggested. To me, it looks like iron staining we see from shallow wells but I have no reference for pigments they used or the process they used to make it. (Closeups available if helpful.)
SmallShell-ConcaveSide.JPG
SmallShell-ConcaveSide3-Close.JPG
SmallShell-ConvexSide-3-Close.JPG


Cool find..i call em finger spoons. Definitely shaped by hand...
Thanks HP. That is nice to hear since it helps reinforce my understanding of what to look for with tooling.
( I was afraid all my red arrows distracted from or hid the cuts on the shell but just wanted to point them out if my images sucked! LOL)
Pete... its a stretch... :)
I can tell you this...
Seashells color from inside out... and this could be a normal color pattern caught in this spot when it died.
I have seen many shells with this color in various stages on shells... and they do not hang around on beaches long because this is the most desirable color looked for by shell collectors... EVEN 1000 years ago it was desired.

So hard ro tell... but definitely possible.
Thanks AARC. I have no context for pigments used locally and knew it would be a stretch to determine but when I saw the cut marks it gave me hope that it had been worked by Native Americans.


Thanks again everyone and let me know if anyone can offer any insight one way or the other on the discolored shell in the post?
 

tomclark

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Thanks joshuaream. Whelk shells are everywhere down here.

Found about 15' from the lagoon edge and potentially deposited here when the lot was raised about 2' above the shore. No pottery nearby but maybe someone can add if this red coloration on this other shell found nearby is just staining, pigments, or caused by fire as one person has suggested. To me, it looks like iron staining we see from shallow wells but I have no reference for pigments they used or the process they used to make it. (Closeups available if helpful.)
View attachment 1984677 View attachment 1984678 View attachment 1984679


Thanks HP. That is nice to hear since it helps reinforce my understanding of what to look for with tooling.
( I was afraid all my red arrows distracted from or hid the cuts on the shell but just wanted to point them out if my images sucked! LOL)

Thanks AARC. I have no context for pigments used locally and knew it would be a stretch to determine but when I saw the cut marks it gave me hope that it had been worked by Native Americans.


Thanks again everyone and let me know if anyone can offer any insight one way or the other on the discolored shell in the post?
organic stain, midden stain..
 
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PetesPockets55

PetesPockets55

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organic stain, midden stain..
Thanks Tom for your insight. A lot of knowledge checking on these posts.

For clarification-
The black/blue is organic and therefore natural?
The red is the midden stain?
 
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tomclark

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Thanks Tom for your insight. A lot of knowledge checking on these posts.

For clarification-
The black/blue is organic and therefore natural?
The red is the midden stain?
Reddish brown is definitely organic stain and the blue is a stain that comes from saltwater environment. That blue is very common to see on shell artifacts. The red/brown coats shell and the blue actually penetrates into the shell
 
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PetesPockets55

PetesPockets55

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Reddish brown is definitely organic stain and the blue is a stain that comes from saltwater environment. That blue is very common to see on shell artifacts. The red/brown coats shell and the blue actually penetrates into the shell
Thanks again for the insight.

Thanks again everyone for the help. I'm chalking this one up as a NA "finger spoon". That's a very apt name since the fingers cradle the handle very well and it would have been very comfortable for getting items into the mouth.

EDI: It just amazes me that something so fragile survived all this time.
 

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