Hand carved woodenware pieces like this ladle from the 1800's have a sculptural quality that makes them a delight to display in both country and modern interiors. The hooked end of the handle, with a carving usually referred to as a bird's head effigy, was useful for hanging the ladle on the edge of a pot or bowl. This one resembles the head of a goose in profile and is a bit more shapely and detailed than is usual. Carved from a solid piece of wood, the ladle is well balanced and the thin rim that comes to a peak at the end of the bowl is masterfully carved. Ladles like this are often attributed to various Native American tribes, from the Iroquois in New York and Ontario to Pacific Northwest Coast peoples, but it's a form that easily could have been used by settlers in those areas, also.
At some point in its centuries of use, the ladle was painted in red, which has alligatored and darkened in spots to appear a dark brown. There is still a band of red on the back at the base of the handle. The bowl was then decorated both inside and out with simple, painted flower petals, red berries, stems and buds that add to the primitive, folk art charm. Although the grain of the wood can be seen and felt in several areas, it's difficult to tell what species it is--at a guess, we'll say maple.
This ladle measures 12 1/2 inches long; the tapered handle is 8 inches long and the bowl about 4 1/4 inches wide and 2 inches deep. It's in exceptionally fine condition, especially for its age and the use it's endured dipping and sipping. There is of course wear to the paint and many fine nicks and dents in the wood. On the front, there is a 1/2 inch long hairline in the bowl at the point where it meets the handle (shown by the arrow) that does not go through to the back but no other cracks, chips or damage are present. It's a terrific piece of hand carved, hand painted American folk art.