Homely, Ordinary, Innocuous or Exquisite…
Nothing is more commonplace or more universally used than the humble salt and pepper shaker. Nearly every household has several sets and they grace the tables in every cafe, restaurant, inn and fast food joint in the USA. However, the variety of colors, shapes, sizes, styles and manufacturing materials these come in is staggering.
It is commonly said that the salt shaker was first invented in 1858 by John Mason, who invented the screw-top Mason jar. His salt receptacle was a jar with punched top lid made to evenly distribute the salt grains. Because of the tendency of salt to absorb moisture and clump, this early shaker didn’t really catch on until, in the 1920s, Morton Salt Co. introduced magnesium carbonate into its product, making the salt much easier to pour. Since salt and pepper were commonly served together either in cellar, bowl or grinder, the shakers as they became popular came in pairs also. Early shakers commonly had one larger hole in the salt shaker and two or three on the pepper shaker.
Many early shaker sets were made of porcelain, pottery and ceramic. Most of these could be had quite inexpensively, and from early on they came in a variety of colors, patterns and designs. As the popularity of these condiment dispensers grew, they were made of glass, both base and precious metals, and eventually out of plastic. You can also find shakers made of wood. Many shaker sets were made in Japan. They were a major export in the late 1920s and the 30s, and then again after World War II. Many shakers produced during the postwar years, labeled “Made in occupied Japan,” or “Occupied Japan,” are extremely rare and highly sought after.
Another Accidental Collection
I had never thought about collecting salt and pepper shakers, but I have amassed quite a few sets—sweet brown deer (a Christmas gift from my Daughter for her O Deer Mercantile Mom), a set of snowy owls, tin mushrooms, Fenton hobnail milk glass, and more.
In my studio, I use a rather extensive collection of glass shakers to hold glitter, buttons and other small items. It was never anything I gave much thought to. One of my favorite bloggers used them for glitter and I liked the idea. It was then that I started actually looking at and for shakers when I thrifted.
Now, a couple of years later and I have not idea how many glass salt and pepper shakers I have in baskets and bins around this studio. However, not all the shakers I find end up living with me (If only 🙁 ). A fair number of them find their way into the O Deer Mercantile Etsy Shop.
Here are just a few of them. Some are pure kitsch while others are amazingly beautiful. Some fall into both categories…
(I love these Guys) I could not discover much information on these unique and quite quirky novelty shakers. The two fully uniformed Beefeaters stand about 3 1/4 inches tall and are about 3 inches at their widest point. Nicely detailed and obviously hand-painted. They are stamped on the bottom and I believe the stamp is ©EPL, though I am not certain. They are in very good vintage condition with no cracks, scratches or chips.
Novelty Porcelain Salt and Pepper Set: Trees and Scenery Painting, Mid Century Lusterware Made in Japan~ $10.00
Vintage hand painted lusterware salt and pepper shakers made in Japan. Each shaker measures 2 5/8″ tall, with a 5/8″ diameter top, and 1 3/4″ diameter base. Both have the original cork, and MADE IN JAPAN printed on the bottom. 1950s or 60s. Beautiful Vintage condition…
Absolutely stunning set of Fenton Art Glass salt and pepper shakers in Cranberry/ Plum Opalescent hobnail glass. Made in the 1940s. 3 inches tall (3 1/4 including tops). These shakers are in very good condition. There is some peeling and degradation of the shiny coating on metal lids, particularly the one which contained salt. These would complement so many table settings, from cottage to boho and more
These Kitschy Mid Century salt and pepper shakers were made by NAPCO. NAPCO, or National Potteries Corporation, is located in Bedford, OH and began production of Porcelain and Glass in 1938. I don’t have an exacty date on these but style places them in 1940s or 50s. There are no stoppers on these shakers. Faded Napco label on one. Both are printed with #2M3198. About 3 3/4 inches long at base and 3 inches tall at car canopy. Tops are printed with S and P, trimmed in gold and are in very good condition. Some crazing from age. However, there is a missing flower on the hood of salt shaker and a chipped leaf. Missing leaf on front of pepper shaker. These flaws do not really detract from the attractiveness of this pair. However, look closely at pictures before deciding to purchase and contact me with any questions.
Vintage Salt and Pepper shakers marked with sticker: Made in Japan. Kitschy and pretty woven flower baskets with yellow centered pink flowers and green leaves. These mid century shakers would make a great addition to a collection or look cute in a farmhouse kitchen. 3 1/4 inches tall and about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Good condition for age. Slight chipping of paint and glaze on the very top edge of one of the flowers. Look at photos closely.
Cute vintage salt and pepper shakers. Heavy pressed glass barrel body and pedestal style with silver tone tops. About 5 1/2 inches tall and 2 inches diameter at the base. These shakers are in very good condition. No chips or cracks. While we strive to portray the colors of our items accurately, things like lighting, background and photo exposure cause the appearance to vary.
Visit O Deer Mercantile to see all our Salt and Pepper Shakers—Plus lots more fun stuff! That’s all for today.
Till next time… Have a wonderful week!