This is a late 17th C - early 18th C silver vinaigrette. These were used to hold scent or vinegar which was kept close at hand to overpower odors as its user walked the streets of Europe. Its lid has the initials “C H” engraved on a central raised hexagon surrounded by silver rays which each extend from the hexagon to the edges of the lid. The sides and base of the vinaigrette are undecorated. It has a beautifully tooled vermeil interior with a hinged interior cover which is engraved with an oak-leaf and acorn design surrounding a plain rectangle. The rectangle was almost certainly left undecorated for initials which were never engraved on it. The vermeil interior is in good condition, with little wear from use. The hinges are intact and in good condition. The lid of the box has one very small speck which may be the very beginning of a corrosion spot upper left. The front lip of the lid shows a vertical scratch just to the left of center, and the base has a discolored spot, possibly from scent or liquid resting against it at some time in the far past. The left side of the base has a drilled hole, placed there so the vinaigrette could be suspended by a cord or chain in order to be held close at hand for use when street smells became overpowering as they often did during the late 17th - early 18th C. Sadly the maker did not mark this lovely vinaigrette so its origin is unknown, though it almost certainly was created by a skilled English, French or German silver-smith. The piece measures 1 1/4” side-to-side, 1” hinge to front edge, and 3/8” high.
17th C - 18th C Silver Vinaigrette with Gilt Interior
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