Here is a lovely antique sterling vinaigrette from famed British silversmith William Simpson. The piece dates from 1833.
It is fully hallmarked and boasts a truly elegant design.
The piece has been professionally tested to ensure the purity of the silver.
As you can see, the vinaigrette's lid features a minuscule repeating pattern which surrounds a blank rectangular cartouche at the center.
The edges of the lid are accented with a beautiful hand-hammered foliate scrolling design.
Upon opening the box you can see the delicate gilt screen that would have held a perfumed sponge.
A hinge on one side of the screen allows it to be easily lifted and securely pushed down again.
The gilt screen of this vinaigrette features a beautiful pierced floral design.
Vinaigrettes, popular from the late 18th century through the mid-19th century, were small containers used for holding various aromatic substances, usually dissolved in vinegar.
A tiny piece of sponge, soaked in the liquid, was contained beneath a grill or perforated cover.
Vinaigrettes were used by men and women, but by the 1820's is became almost exclusively a woman's accessory.
Carried in a pocket or reticule, or suspended from a chatelaine at the waist, it was used as a little emergency tool in case the wearer encountered foul smells.
And, if the wearer were to become "overwhelmed" with emotion, it would be near at hand to use for some restorative means.
In the era before the Civil War, "ladies" were expected to faint because of their delicate "constitution."
We are certain it is because they were trussed up, tucked, laced and stuffed into heavy, hot dresses.
You will find maker's mark impressed into the underside of the lid as well as on the interior, under the pierced screen.
The marks on the lid include, firstly, a duty-mark portraying the right-facing profile of King George IV.
The duty-marking system was implemented in Great Britain to indicate that a tax on the stamped item had been paid to the crown.
This particular mark was used from 1822 to 1833.
The duty-mark is followed by a maker's mark which reads "WS" for William Simpson (this mark was used by the maker from 1828 to 1840).
Adjacent to this is the Lion Passant, the national mark for British silver.
Marks below the gilt screen include an anchor (the mark representing silver items manufactured in Birmingham, England), another "WS" maker's mark and finally, the date mark "K".
The date mark indicates that the piece was manufactured in 1833.
You will encounter some minimal areas of expected wear, particularly to the interior of the vinaigrette.
Some light flea-bite scratches can be seen here and there, though this rare and highly-collectible vinaigrette remains in excellent antique condition overall.
Measurements: Vinaigrette measures 1 3/8" long, 1" wide and 3/8" tall Weight: 16.7 grams (0.6 oz)