Learn about Vinaigrette
A vinaigrette is a small tightly-lidded box, usually finely worked in gold, silver or enamel, with an often elaborate pierced grate beneath the outler lid, with the interior holding a sponge soaked in aromatic vinegar, its purpose being to disguise odours caused by poor hygiene and drainage. Vinaigrettes were used from the late 18th century until the late 19th century.
To prevent corrosion by the vinegar, the interior of the vinaigrette was usually gilded. Occasionally the grille is made of gold, a rare and desirable feature although often difficult to distinguish from gilt.
They were usually rectangular in shape, but are found in other shapes iincluding fish, bells, helmets, beehives books and so on. The most common material used was silver, but they were also made in other materials including precious stone, shell, ivory, enamel, agate, pearl and combinations of these.
Among the most collectable are the silver vinaigrettes known as "castle-tops" where the lid has an embossed image of a topographical scene including a recognisable castle, abbey or country house. more...