Low circular English pewter trencher salt ex Michaelis c1700-20


Low circular English pewter trencher salt c1700-20 lacking a maker's mark. Various condiments were used from the earliest times to heighten the natural flavour of foods, stimulate the appetite, aid digestion, or preserve certain foods. Growing international trade increased the variety of spices available in Britain. By Tudor times, the choice was extensive, and pewterers produced vessels such as spice saucers, and later containers for condiment of which salts were among the earliest. One enigma is the received wisdom that early salts only held small amounts due to the high price of salt, which is untrue. It is much more likely they demonstrate the old adage ‘form fits function’. It was convenient for most of them to hold small amounts either because damp air spoiled the salt, or because from at least the Stuart period it was usual for several salts to be placed about the table. British salts are almost exclusively unlidded suggesting the problem of moisture absorption was quickly realised. This salt is in better condition than a very similar example in the John Douglas collection (Lot 213 Bonhams 19.4.2021). Provenance: formerly in the collections of the late Ron Michaelis (his label under the base), and Prescott Clark, Boston MA (#340). In excellent condition, with light-medium grey original surface patina. 1½" tall, with 2¾" diameter base. 127g weight. This is the one in the centre of the group photo of three salts, of which the other two are also for sale. REF: P1313