A rare Dutch Caribbean silver water-scoop
Curaçao, circa 1873, indistinctly marked, engraved with initials G R P
L. 35 cm / Weight 221 grams
The form of the water scoop is derived from a half coconut on a wooden handle. Silver water scoops, in different forms, are quite common in Mid- and South America, but unknown in Asia. Silver was supposed to disinfect water, but a silver water scoop undoubtedly also was a sign of the prosperity of its owner.
G R P probably relates to Gerard Rudolf Palm (Curaçao 1845 - The Hague 1880), son of Frederik Palm and Maria Hendrika Johanna Elisabeth Latté. Hermanus Palm born in Karlskrona, Sweden, was the first of the Palm family to arrive in Curaçao where he died before 1777. Gerard Rudolf was the fifth generation of the Palm family in Curaçao and was a slave owner in 1863 when slavery was abolished in the Dutch Caribbean because he was compensated 400 guilders. Gerard Rudolf was registered as a law student at the University of Leiden in 1862, and as a lawyer in Curaçao in 1873. In the same year, he was appointed cantonal judge and on April 1st member of the Court of Justice. Gerard Rudolf married Pauline Reina Eliza Boer (Curaçao 1850) daughter of Henry Boer and Arendina Jacoba Alberdinck in 1870. Together they had a son who died at the age of one, and a daughter who
had no children. Gerard Rudolf had four half-brothers and two half-sisters whom all had several children, and today there are many members of the Palm family. Henry Boer, the father of Gerard’s wife, probably was the same as lieutenant H. Boer who made the architectural drawings for the new church of San Willibrordo in Curaçao in 1849. On August 15th, 1879, because of health problems, Gerard Rudolf sailed to the Netherlands where he died, 34 years of age.
Curaçao was a small community with few silversmiths working there during the 19th century. Few pieces were marked, and much of what they made was exported to mainland South America. Therefore, very little silver can be ascribed with any certainty to Curaçao silversmiths. One other unmarked silver water scoop, from the collection of Mr Van de Walle, is illustrated
in Uit Verre Streken, June 2014, nr. 6. In the 1940s Van de Walle collected and published on antique Curaçao furniture and silver while working there as a journalist. He was the first Dutchman to collect the applied arts from the Dutch Antilles (see J. Veenendaal, Meubelen en zilver van Curaçao, in Antiek, tijdschrift voor oude kunst en kunstnijverheid, November 1994, pp. 24-31).