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       Salt throne                                 Sea shell salt cellar                          Silver salt cellar

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Master salt made of silver, rock-crystals and rubies. From the 13th-15th century.

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1855 -1865 Germany porcelain

salt cellar


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Decades ago, salt held a prominent place at the table.


The salt was presented in 'salt cellars'.


 Salt cellars are known by assorted names including: open salt, salt dip, standing salt,

master salt and salt dish.

A master salt is the large receptacle from which the smaller, distributed, salt dishes are filled; according to fashion or custom it was lidded, or open,

or covered with a cloth.


A standing salt is a master salt, so-named because it remained in place as opposed to being passed.


During the Middle Ages, elaborate master salt cellars evolved. Placed at the head table, this large receptacle was a sign of status and prosperity, prominently displayed. It was usually made of silver and often decorated in motifs of the sea.


In addition to the master salt, smaller, simpler salt cellars were distributed for diners to share; these could take forms as simple as slices of stale bread.


The social status of guests could be measured by their positions relative to the large salt cellar: high-ranking guests sat above the salt while those of lesser importance sat below the salt. 

Salt Cellar: rock crystal, gold enamel Elephant, Vienna.
Circa 1550.

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Triangular master salt with cover  Silver, 1618

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Master salt made of shell 

mid-13th century.

Gold, rock crystal, emeralds, pearls, spinel or balas rubies

Made in Paris, France

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