Posted 5 years ago
There are two preferred ways to collect the items we all collect, salt shakers. Some strictly like to collect the shaker itself just for what it is and others like both the shaker and the holders that they often came in. Not all shakers were made with the intention that they were going to reside in a holder whether it is a glass holder or metal. Most metal holders were in the category of silverplate.
The silverplate holders are what I would like to concentrate on here. Often made of some kind of base metal such as pot metal, pewter, brass and then silverplated with a fine coat of silver really brought these little works of art to life. These holders can often be very plain all the way to very fancy reflecting different periods of decorating styles during the Victorian period.
Many holders are marked with the manufacturer but not all, in the form of a stamp on the piece often on the bottom. Some even may have a little medallion with the makers mark soldered to the piece. Usually with the company name and the degree of plating that has been done whether it be triple plate or quadruple plate and usually some kind of item number.
Many of these holders will hold anything from a simple salt and pepper, some with the addition of a mustard jar, cruet, and maybe even a toothpick holder. The features of the silverplate holder may have a silverplate toothpick, napkin ring and butter pats incorporated into the holder itself. Some particular holders were made specifically for a specific shaker itself. One particular example that comes to mind is the holder for Mt Washington Tomatoes. Most holders however will accept many different shakers and would work just fine and be acceptable in my opinion unless there is specific documentation as to what shakers were sold with the holder.
Silverplate holders often are victim of age and the silverplate is often worn off to varying degrees and pieces of the holder broken off and bent.
There are two different schools of thought as to what to do about the condition of a holder as you may find it. Some collectors like to leave it in “As found” condition and others prefer to have the holder fixed and or re-plated. Re-plating and or repair can be rather expensive and who you have do the work can make or break the piece.
I happen to use a company that in my opinion is the best in the business, Oexning Silversmiths of Bakersville, N.C. The cost for the work can be expensive but well worth it if you like your pieces re-plated.
Some of the many makers of silverplate are Meriden, Rockford, Tufts, and Pairpoint to name just a few. Pieces were made up of many parts and then soldered together to form these beautiful holders. Finally they were plated and ready for use. My personal favorite manufacturer is Tufts for their quality and unusual designs and styles. As I mentioned before, some holders were made for specific shakers and were formed to the shape of the shakers. I have found that most often Mt Washington pieces fall into that category.
As I mentioned before, holders can come in a number of configurations. There are two bottle holders up to four bottle holders. The four bottle holders are the hardest to find in my opinion are made by American makers. European makers, which we are not really discussing here, are easy to find in the four bottle configuration. The holders can accommodate a simple salt and pepper for a two bottle holder to a salt, pepper, and mustard for the three bottle and finally a salt, pepper, mustard, and a small cruet for the four bottle holders.
These old silverplate holders are getting harder and harder to find and especially in good shape. As said before it’s up to the buyer to decide if the holders you find are worth it in the "as is" condition or is it special enough to put some money into it to get is fixed and re-plated. It’s all up to your individual taste.