A silver vinaigrette is a small box that holds perfume or scented substances like vinegar. These decorative boxes hold a sponge soaked in the perfume or scented substance. The boxes had a perforated lid which allowed the pleasant smells to escape from the box. A vinaigrette box is essentially the modern version of the pomander since they serve the same purpose.
Silver vinaigrettes were popular with women back before the mid 19th century. Most women carried them as accessories. The boxes were of different sizes and styles, but most of them had a pretty design. Some were worn as lockets and so it's not uncommon to find examples with a ring attachment that allows a chain to be passed through it.
In general, vinaigrettes had more detailed craftsmanship than any other antique silver box. The craftsmanship is evident in the pierced inner lids of the box and also the delicate repousse work. This fine craftsmanship is what makes these items collectible.
English vinaigrettes were stamped under the lid and the majority of them were made in Birmingham, England. It's estimated that around 75% of English vinaigrettes were made in Birmingham from a limited number of makers.
Vinaigrette boxes have become more popular in recent years and their prices reflect their increased popularity. Collectors from all over the world seek out these pieces. Some collectors even use these boxes to store pills or any other small items.
Antique silver vinaigrette boxes are rare and they can sell for hundreds of dollars. Some early pieces can sell for over $1,000.
The Book of Old Silver