Pass the Salt – It's a Hot Collectible
Part of the
attraction of any collectible is the story that surrounds it,
and salt-cellars have a tale to tell. Here’s what you need to
know about this condiment collectible.
Salt-cellars, sometimes called “the salt,”
open salts or salt dips, have been around for centuries. They
are the dishes from which salt was served with tiny spoons or
the end of a knife blade. In informal situations, you could
pinch the salt from the dishes.
was coarse and caked in humid weather. It had to be kept in
open dishes so that the coarse salt could be broken up before
Salt-cellars were made of many materials
including wood, glass, pottery, pewter, crystal, sterling and
Faberge. They ranged in style from unadorned, simple-shaped
glass to chic decorative sterling silver.
Middle Ages, where you were seated in relation to the placement
of the salt on the table signified your social stature. The
desirable seating position was “above the salt,” a term that is
still sometimes used. Wealthy Romans’ liberal use of salt, a
precious commodity at that time, broadcast their social
One of the
most famous salt-cellars is depicted in Leonardo da Vinci's
painting "The Last Supper." It shows an upturned salt-cellar in
front of Judas, which signifies bad luck or bad
Salt-cellars became archaic in the early 19th
century when new glass technology developed. Glass salt shakers
were born and salt-cellars were obsolete.
Salt-cellars are attractive collectibles.
They are unique and decorative. You can have an assortment yet
they do not take up too much space. Plus, they are not too
expensive so you can develop a collection without breaking the
bank, ranging in price from a few dollars to pricier crystal or
shops, flea markets, garage sales and E-bay are all good
sources for salt-cellars.
Swinton owns Take-A-Boo Emporium, an antique shop located in
Toronto, Canada. He does furniture restoration, caning and
rushing repairs, custom reproductions, upholstery, teaches
courses on antiques and does appraisals for estates and
community events. He can be reached at 416-785-4555 or by