There are some times, admittedly a lot of times, when I think how lovely it would be to have lived in Victorian England, (as a lady, of course) the fashion, the jewels… to spend my life traveling the countryside? Sewing and painting and playing cards as my major pastimes, time to learn piano and how to dance? Dressing to the nines every night for dinner? I swoon. There are other times when I think, oh, no, the beds must have been awful, the hygiene, the smell, oh my the smell.
Here’s one of the ways to show how smelly it must have been, it’s called a Vinaigrette. Hand crafted in England in 1846, this golden colored box was made to hold a small sponge which was doused in perfume. The lady (or gent) would keep it in a pocket or wear it on a chain or chatelaine and use it as needed to counteract the smell of horses and sewage that permeated the streets of Mid-Victorian cities. This one is beautifully hand crafted and engraved on both sides, the front featuring an engraving of a castle on a Lake, with boaters floating on the water; the reverse is boldly engraved with flourishing flora. Open the vinaigrette and you’ll see a grate of sorts, also elaborately engraved, this was used to encase the sponge.
This is a somewhat larger than usual vinaigrette and measures 45.3 mm north to south and 30.4 mm across, it’s 9.3 mm thick and weighs 23.1 grams. It is hallmarked with marks showing it was made in Birmingham, England in 1846 of sterling silver, it is beautifully washed in gold both inside and out.
These Vinaigrettes still work pretty well, I’ve had to supply a big city friend or three with them, the subway can be a hard place for some!
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