8-4 salt cellar WEB.JPG

Salt cellars are a very collectible and fashionable item. The use of these bowls declined with the invention of the salt shaker.

When choosing a subject for my Trash & Treasures columns each week, I start looking through my recent photos from my “What’s It Worth” antique classes as well as some of my inventory from my booth at the “Bushel & a Peck, Antique Boutique” here in North Platte. And I still have lots of inventory sitting in my apartment and don’t know exactly where to go with it. But, tonight as I was looking around for a few ideas, I focused on this little cutie I had sitting on top of my ladies’ roll-top desk. Actually, I have been meaning to take it to my antique class and show it to one of my friends who collects them. But I just keep forgetting to take it with me.

So, tonight I decided I would find out a bit more history on it myself and actually write my TNT on this subject. The fun part about writing these articles all of these years (almost 28 years now), is I seem to always find out something more than I had anticipated on a particular subject and/or it may lead me to yet another area for my next TNT article. Research is made easy these days with the handiness of our computers and cell phones. But sometimes I have discovered that I may find more info than I ever realized I could or need to have. And then, I have a problem of “sizing” it down a bit in order to compress all the information I just found! I have an awesome job. Most of the time I have an exhilarating and fun time looking up my items for my articles, but other times I need to sort through quite a bit of information before I proceed with the article.

And, I only wish that I could retain more — and remember it for tomorrow! Yes, it comes in fast and goes out of my head just about as fast as it comes in. Too many things on the brain or I would call it an extreme overload so now I can’t remember anything any more. Very disturbing sometimes, for sure. Especially, when I am standing at my “What’s it Worth” antique classes I have on Tuesday evenings (now held at Wild Bill’s Fun Center here in North Platte) and I cannot remember a single thing about an item I had just researched. Heck, to grow old. But I am not quite ready to let go yet.

Anyway, the research for my articles each week becomes a fun “to do” item on my list. I do truly wish I could retain more information so I could pass it on to others, but here it goes again this week: Salt cellars or just plain “salts” have become quite a favorite for many collectors today, maybe because of the size (they don’t take up much room in a china hutch, unless you choose to collect them big time and then you may have a problem displaying them all) and maybe the uniqueness of each and every one. They have been around for quite some time, going back into the classical periods of very fancy Greek artifacts and/or European periods of history as well. They are made of glass, pottery, china, silver (sometimes sterling), ivory, wood and now even plastic. Hard for me to even write the word “plastic” but I guess they are still making them today even in many styles and forms of heavy plastic.

Pewter is another very collectible salt cellar, as well as a so-called black glazed “terra-cotta” as early as the 5th Century BC, in Athens. Naturally, something this old would be worth a mint, I am sure. As I read and find more on this subject, I can certainly see why someone could get hooked quite easily into collecting these little cuties. And of course, the art of collecting anything today is to try to find as many different ones as you can or to complete a set of salt cellars, usually a set of four, six or eight, normally ­— so you can see why it would be fun to hunt for something a bit smaller and not have to break your back carrying them to the car at a collectors’ show or antique show. I need to mention that they even have conventions and get togethers for collectors all over the world so they can compare notes as well as do some hot trading of pieces they already may own, but have too many items alike and would wish to trade them for something else.

The actual decline of usage became apparent when the “salt shaker” was introduced. So much easier to use: Pour salt into a container, screw the lid on and you can forget about filling the shaker for a few weeks or longer. Naturally, when free-flowing salt was introduced in 1911 (you did not have to chip it off a larger block of salt — it was already ground up for dispensing salt much easier) the salt shakers became hot items immediately. Same with the pepper — pepper pods were ground with pepper grinders, making the pepper more easily dispensed.

There usually would be a “master” salt in which the smaller individual salts would have been filled from. thus, finding the master as well as a complete set of individual salts for a whole a matched set can be an awesome reward to any salt cellar collector. And one more thing regarding these cute individual salt cellars and the masters as well: You may have one more very important collectible or antique to look for to complete your set — the individual salt spoons as well as a bit larger one for the master salt. So, if you happen to be someone who loves to collect and are limited on space, here is another option for you: salt cellar sets, individual sets, complete sets with spoons, from all eras. It is always fun to look up the history of all the things I have found through the many years I have collected — almost 50 years — and it still amazes me what I may find just around the next corner. Besides family and friends, antiques and the lure of the hunt seems to keep this old girl going and going and going!

Have a great week ahead, everyone. Please don’t forget to visit your local antique shops, we have some pretty amazing stuff in these shops just waiting for you to come along and take it home to add to your collections. Sweet collectibles or outright old antique items — the hunt is the best part but when you find that one little treasure (or big treasure) you just cannot live without, it helps us make it through another day. Happy hunting, everyone, and happy August!

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