Jill N. writes: I have a silver coin that has been made into a spoon. On one side it shows St. Peter holding a bowl and the words “Petros” and “Ancona”. The other side says “Pontimax” and “IVL_” (last digit unreadable) and shows crossed keys and a coat of arms. A priest from the Abbey in Newport, RI said he thought the spoon was for serving the elements of communion. Any ideas what this is? Thanks in advance.
This is what I can tell you based on the information you provided:
Ancona – is a town in Italy with a harbor on the Adriatic coast and one of the former Papal States. The crossed keys and shield are a symbol of the Papal States that were ruled by the Vatican until Italy was unified in the 1860’s
PONT MAX is the Latin abbreviation of pontifex maximus, originally the head of the 15 member guild of priests in the Roman Temple but refers to the Pope on these coins as the leader of the Catholic Church. If you can see the words before “PONT” you can determine the Pope’s name and therefore the date range.
Petros – Ram not “Peter” (Petrus is Peter). Note that figures of St. Peter are shown wearing a halo. Without the halo, the figure is allegorical. IVL_ is not a number but the word IVLUS essentially meaning “of the Caesars” (in this case it refers to “The Popes”).
Spoons made from coins, in this case, a 1/2 silver Scudo or Scudo, were popular as souvenirs, gifts and presentation pieces and they have a good collector base. Though the priest that you spoke with may be correct, it goes against the spirit of the Mass to use money as a communion implement (what about those money changer guys and bribes of “pieces of silver”). The spoon was most likely specifically made as a presentation/gift for someone special.