Members' Window # 81  
by Wayne Bednersh  
(click on photos to enlarge image)


Mounted in the finial of this spoon is a brown handmade obsidian arrowhead.
I do not know if this is an ancient piece or if it were made contemporaneously with the spoon.
The bowl is a hand engraved picture of the tower at the Hotel Rafael.
I wondered why a spoon about a hotel had an arrowhead mounted in it.
All kinds of interesting scenarios came to mind, but the truth is stranger than the fiction.

The hotel was built by W.T. Coleman, a Swiss immigrant, who made a fortune in the San Francisco area during the 1870-1890's. His career began as a vigilante in the 1856 "wild west" lawless San Francisco area. He was so successful in creating an atmosphere of peace, that he in-effect became the first police chief.

His business empire was built upon the transportation and processing of raw sugar, and he maintained a fleet of ships and offices around the globe.

Over the course of the 1870's - 1890's, he built the area of San Rafael (Marin County -- just across the bay from San Francisco and today one of the wealthiest counties in the world) literally with his own money. He established a water utility to bring water to the area. He arranged to have a railroad link to San Francisco built (a very difficult and expensive undertaking). He built a nursery in the valley. Then with his own money he underwrote the establishment of the court house and the Hotel Tamalpais.
In 1888 he completed the 101 room luxury Hotel Rafael, which became the haven for wealthy San Francisco residents who wanted to get away from the city.

In his later life, many people wanted him to become a presidential candidate against Grover Cleveland, although he never did run against Cleveland. Cleveland did, however, put borax on the free import list which would eventually cause Mr. Coleman to file for bankruptcy as his ownership in the famous borax mines of California had become his major source of wealth. He did manage to repay all of his debtors before his death, however.

But I still haven't told you why the arrowhead is on the spoon, although I did give you a clue.

I told you he was a Swiss immigrant. I also told you his initials were W.T. (which stands for William Tell). Yes he was named after the famous hero of the Swiss people who was forced to shoot an apple from his son's head. Thus the arrowhead is a reference to this famous legend.
Wayne Bednersh
- 2009 -
This article is published with the kind permission of Wayne Bednersh, the owner of "The Souvenir and Commemorative Spoon Planet Museum" website. This website is organized as an on-line virtual museum and there are about 500 different exhibits and about 4000 different spoons.
The site is sponsored by the Spoon Club of Southern California (SCSC), a non-profit group of spoon collectors organized to help its members to better enjoy their spoon collecting hobby.