Salt and pepper shakers are unavoidable items you can see on the dining tables used during a meal, along with cutlery, glasses, and dishes. Their design typically includes two containers forming a set, but they can differ in the number of holes on the top and sometimes in color and shape.
In addition to having a known purpose and everyday use, these shakers also have collectible value. Since these are small items, a modest budget is enough to make a decent collection. However, antique salt and pepper shakers are the most interesting for collectors.
Salt and Pepper Shaker History
In Victorian times, people kept salt in open cellars because it came in stone form. It was necessary to separate a piece and break it to use salt during food preparation. That was why the first brine were essentially salt mills.
With the salt production improvement, the need for salt mills disappeared, and brines got an increasingly modern look. Over the years, pepper shakers began to appear along with brines, so they soon began to be produced in pairs, making sets.
The material used to make them were different, and you could find those made of glass, plastic, ceramics, and metal. Shakers became trendy during the 1920s when Morton Salt introduced agents that prevented the shaker contents from hardening.
The significant rise in salt and pepper shakers production began in the 1930s and 1940s. During the Great Depression, pottery manufacturers shifted their focus to cheap items to survive. These sets appeared in various shapes and imaginative designs.
Shakers’ purpose also changed. In addition to their primary role in preparing and serving food, these sets become souvenirs and collectibles.
That was why producers created sets marking special events or holidays, such as Christmas, New Year, or Halloween. Plus, the salt and pepper shaker design often conveyed the national identity of a particular country or people and their cultural values.
Antique Salt and Pepper Shaker Styles
It is challenging to distinguish antique shakers from their reproductions, especially at first glance. Numerous styles and different designs are characteristic of the earliest period of salt and pepper shaker development. As a collector, you should be familiar with standard types such as:
Anonymous Christmas shaker set
Dog salt & pepper shakers
Engraved metal/silver shakers
Pink Spun aluminum & bakelite shakers
Nippon hand-painted shakers
Fitz & Floyd elves shakers
Souvenir salt & pepper shakers
Art deco, so-called Japanese shakers
Green milk glass shakers
Van Tellingen Huggers’ shakers
Dutch boy & girl figural shakers
However, there is a possibility to come across pieces with unique details, depending on manufacturers and production year.
As you know, most of the salt and pepper shakers come as a pair. In most cases, they represent the same look and form. Sometimes, designers pair two pieces with similar characteristics but a few differences.
You can quickly notice that they make a pair but are not the same in the classical sense. You can also find salt and pepper shakers on the base, shoving you that it is a set.
Antique Salt and Pepper Shakers Identification
To be sure that you have the original antique salt and pepper shaker set in front of you, you need to check a few specific details.
Shaker’s manufacturing year should be sufficient to determine each model’s identity. Unfortunately, many reproductions and fake pieces make it impossible to confirm this without a detailed examination.
Country or state of origin
While not every country has enough preserved production information, this can be one way to determine the authenticity of your salt and pepper shaker set. Researching national, regional, or local archives can sometimes provide you with enough information.
Finding a company that created salt and pepper shakers was the most reliable way to establish its authenticity. Some of them put their markings on the shaker’s bottom or around its top. However, it is advisable to look carefully for markings because some manufacturers fitted them into the design.
The difference between antique and modern sets is easiest to notice when you check the material used to make the shaker.
The material for making modern models is most often plastic or metal. However, ceramics and unusual glass were the material of choice for making classic antique pieces.
The influence of Art Deco, artistic style, and retro movements resulted in numerous antique collectibles during the last century. You could notice that most shakers came without a perfect finishing surface in the early decades, although they had a precise and unique design.
Antique Salt and Pepper Shakers Value
Antique salt and pepper shakers’ values can significantly vary. The rule of thumb is that the more decorated and older pieces are more costly.
For instance, a pair of Tiffany hand-hammered silver and mixed metal shakers produced from 1878 to 1891 was sold at auction in 2013 for an impressive $6,875. A set of Steuben Glass Works blue aurene created from 1912 to 1922 was sold for slightly less money. One collector paid $2,400 for it.
Antique salt and pepper shakers by Etsy
|Reed and Barton sterling silver set||$2,550|
|Victorian sterling silver set||$2,500|
|Sampson Mordan chick||$960|
|Tiffany and Co. sterling silver shakers||$689|
|Silver novelty dog||$608|
|Birds in love for Valentine’s day||$160|
|Little Red Riding hood set||$100|
|Royal Albert roses||$50|
|Chubby Japanese faces||$50|
|Set from Greek mythology||$40|
|Silver-plate cobalt glass||$30|
|Kookaburra bird set||$25|
|Dutch boy and girl set||$19|
|Beagle pup set||$12|
|Ancient ship set||$8|
|Toby captain shakers||$2|
|Set in cross-stitch pattern||$3|
|Wood bucket set||$2.50|
On the other hand, numerous sales websites offer more accessible possibilities. For instance, you can find antique sets on eBay for just over a dollar. The situation is similar to Etsy, where you can find antique salt and pepper shakers for only $2.50.
Antique salt and pepper shakers by eBay
|Sterling silver novelty||$1,915|
|Guilloche Enamel owl||$700|
|Catalina island flying fish||$650|
|Prayer hands set||$510|
|Sterling silver elephant design||$442|
|Asian pair of faces||$305|
|Red and yellow Shell gas pump||$230|
|Spode Blue Italian oversized set||$200|
|Crazy calico cats||$120|
|Lenox eternal Christmas||$95|
|Pink depression glass||$70|
|Black and white cows||$19|
|Mickey and Minnie||$13|
|Moroccan blue and white design||$5|
Places to Find Antique Salt and Pepper Shakers
You can typically find antique salt and pepper shakers in various antique shops and at garage sales. However, internet sales are so prevalent that they definitely deserve your attention.
The Net can help you identify your shakers, making evaluation effortless in most cases. Comparing your specimens with pieces available online can give you approximate insights into how much your set is worth.
Many internet sales sites offer a large selection of antiques, including the most popular:
- Ancient Point
- Live Auctioneer
Most people never consult YouTube when checking their antiques, which is a mistake you should avoid. Searching videos can significantly help with antique shaker identification and value.
It is possible to find numerous videos on this channel that show the evaluation and identification process, ways to restore your shakers, and how to store and take care of them. You can also find ways to recognize reproductions and distinguish them from original things.
As you know, online websites make the sales process much more manageable and increase the availability of antique shakers. As a result, a large offer significantly lowers prices.
You can use a few excellent reference books to determine the value of antique shakers. Unfortunately, the abundant information on the Net makes them almost useless.
Determining the price of antique salt and pepper shakers is not effortless. Although many factors affect their value, experts have singled out crucial ones:
- Manufacturers can raise the product value by branding it
- An authentication stamp increases the antique shaker price
- Shakers from the early 1900s are more valuable than newer pieces
- Only shakers in perfect condition are valuable and possibly expensive
- Special features on the outer surface can bring an increase in price
- Decorative shakers usually have a higher value compared to ordinarily designed pieces
- The shaker’s rarity on the market increases its value
- Historical connections to events or personalities significantly impact the shaker’s price
Despite these guidelines, determining shakers’ price is sometimes a complicated process. Believe it or not, it can take several days to understand all the details, particularly if you are a beginner.
On the other hand, online service availability allows taking a set picture and posting it on the forum or evaluation company website. Then, you should only wait for someone to recognize and assess your property type.
Antiques vs. Reproductions
Nowadays, the market is flooded with modern reproductions of original antiques, making it challenging to tell the difference quickly. Customers mostly want something unique on their table. On the other hand, many sellers legitimately sell reproductions of antique models.
The problem arises when you want to buy an antique salt and pepper shaker set but can’t distinguish it from reproductions appearing on the antique market.
In such a case, it is crucial to pay attention to the data that can identify a set as an antique before deciding to buy it. For instance, you can notice a slight distortion from the outside on shakers designed before the 1970s.
Still, not every antique shaker has flaws or imperfections to prove its authenticity. That is why it is advisable to be well-acquainted with the available information for your investment to be profitable. Only that way can you be entirely satisfied.
Antique Salt and Pepper Shakers Cleaning and Maintenance
First antiques salt and pepper shakers appeared between 1860 and 1910, during the Victorian era. Manufacturers used fine porcelain, crystal, and silver for producing these pieces, although the most common ones were made of high-quality glass.
Be aware that these items can only be magnificent and long-lasting if you learn how to clean them properly. Despite the different shapes and quality, the cleaning process is generally the same. As always, the most efficient and most affordable option is baking soda.
Pour distilled water into a bowl and add a few tablespoons of baking soda. Soak the shakers in the mixture, let them sit for a few minutes, and rinse them with clean water in the end. The best way is to leave both pieces upside down on a clean flat surface to dry.
Keep in mind that some old shakers can be very dirty, so you need to be careful when removing accumulated dirt from corners and holes. In this case, using toothpicks and toothbrushes is beneficial. It is necessary to empty all the contents and carefully remove deposits before washing.
You can sometimes notice rust on antique metal shakers. The best way to solve this problem is by soaking each piece in an ammonia solution for approximately ten minutes. Be careful and use this chemical only in a room with excellent ventilation or outside.
Sometimes the rust is too severe, and it is impossible to remove it. In this case, hiring a professional to refinish the set is the only option.
As always, prevention is the best solution you have. Always keep antique salt and pepper shakers empty when not in use to protect your set and use it for a long. Wash these lovely pieces twice a year, and they will stay shining for decades.
Over the years, salt and pepper shakers have become necessities in everyday life. However, the variety of the designs has attracted the collectors’ attention. These pieces’ prices significantly vary, depending on the manufacturer, used materials, design, age, condition, and availability on the antique market.