Architectural salt

English (London)
about 1610

Object Place: Europe, London, England


H. 29.8 cm (11 3/4 in.); W. 11.4 cm (4 1/2 in.); Weight 737.1 gm (23 oz 14 dwt)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View





The square base of the salt rests on four ball feet, each surmounted by a pinnacle. The flange and side of the base are stamped with an ovolo pattern. The base is domed and supports five columns; one at each corner resting on a square base with a molded at the top and bottom edge, and a fifth at the center with a stamped molding at the top and the bottom. The larger receptacle for salt forms the entablature. The removable cover is composed of two tiers: the lower level has a molded flange and a border stamped with an ovolo pattern, four pinnacles at the corners, and a domed center. The upper section of the cover rests on four scroll brackets with circular moldings stamped with ovolo decoration above and below. A second, smaller container for salt surmounts this fitting; it has a doomed cover, ovolo stamping warrior holding in his right hand a shield and in his left a spear. The spherical feet are formed in two halves. They are surmounted by cast pinnacles. The square base of the salt is raised. The columns are seamed and attached to the base and entablature with threaded silver rods. The base of the entablature is raised with an applied, stamped flange and a complex molding of three pieces. The removable receptacle for the salt is raised. The square cover for the large salt is raised with applied wire edges and cast pinnacles at the corners. The smaller salt is supported on two molded, stamped rings attached by cast brackets and a threaded post. The cover is formed and stamped; the finial is cast. The surface of the salt is extensively rubbed and worn. The feet and the pinnacles on the cover have been reattached. The mechanism which attaches the small salt to the cover of the large salt is a modern addition.


On dome of cover, base near central column, and under top section near center column, maker's mark a ship in a plain shield (Jackson, 1921, p. 111; rev. ed. 1989, p. 107)


By 1945, R. W. M. Walker, London; July 11, 1945, Walker sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, lot 22, to Thomas Lumley Ltd., London; Colonel Howard Bury, Ireland. November 17, 1960, Sotheby's, London, lot 100, to Thomas Lumley Ltd., London; 1961, sold by Thomas Lumley to the MFA for £4,000. (Accession Date: September 20, 1961)

Credit Line

Theodora Wilbour Fund in memory of Charlotte Beebe Wilbour