Secret Life of Antiques: All Shook Up, Salt Shakers

Salt is something we take for granted these days. Yet at one time salt was a highly prized, quite expensive and worthy of the most expensive, elaborate holders. Historically, salt was symbolic of social standing and economic standing, not only in society, but even within the same family.

Superstitions and prestige associated with salt holders were due to the scarcity and high prices for salt. Leonardo de Vinci placed an overturned salt dish in front of Judas Escariat in his painting The Last Supper, because he considered it an ill omen.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, dishes for salt were elaborate, and richly decorated, more than that, the salt container marked the boundary line on the table between honorable estate and land owners and the “common” guests, which is how the English term “below the salt” was born, indicating someone of little or no social importance. For centuries salt was carefully placed on the table in dishes with a tiny salt spoon, in just the “right place!

For a time, salt was dispensed in little salt mills, like a pepper grinder, as salt was still sold in the original “rocks” and needed to be ground down. It is believed that John Mason {who invented those darling Mason Jars} invented the very first salt shaker. He punched several holes in a small mason jar, and viola! a shaker was born. Decades later, the Morton Salt Company added magnesium carbonate to their salt for better flow, and the salt shaker truly came into its own.

There are many Salt Shaker collectors, the wonderful thing about collecting Salt Shakers is that it takes up relatively little space. There are a whole range of beautiful shakers and salt & pepper sets, some of my favorites are those that are made of cased glass, and the handpainted porcelain shaker sets.  We were lucky to purchase a collection of outstanding examples recently, made by Consolidated Glass & Lamp Co. and porcelain sets by Limoges and Austrian porcelain manufacturers.

Want to know more about salt? This is a great article, filled with everything you will ever want to know about salt. Go to see the gorgeous Victorian Salt & Pepper Shaker Sets we have at FrenchGardenHouse right now, { put shaker in our search box to see what we have found for you} to see them in all their glory!
If you want to romance your Home and Garden with antique and vintage treasures to make you smile each time you come home, visit our shop FrenchGardenHouse.

9 thoughts on “Secret Life of Antiques: All Shook Up, Salt Shakers”

  1. I have a weakness for pretty salt shakers. I should share my little collection. Yours is lovely 🙂

  2. Becca, thanks for the visit, and for writing! Everything of yours is pretty, I know. xo Lidy

  3. amelie

    So so pretty! I love these, I ordered the Limoges ones you had last week, they came today and they are beyond my wildest dreams beautiful, Lidy. thank you! They were my birthday gift to myself, I love shopping for gifts for everyone and sometime myself on Frenchgardenhouse. Blessings, Amelie

  4. Lucille

    So interesting, I never knew any of this. Thanks for sharing. Looking at my salt shaker a whole other way.

  5. What a beautiful collection of salts. I’m slightly addicted to collecting condiments of all kinds.

  6. I’ve never collected S & P shakers, but I bought a beautiful set yesterday at an antique sale. Wanted two, but just ended up with one. Yours are beautiful!!! I’ve never seen pink ones. Thanks for showing them.

    1. Thanks for the visit Rita, I agree, the PINKS are gorgeous! xo

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