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Miniature salt box

Miniature salt box

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1725-1728 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Slater, James (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mrs D.S.F. Campbell

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Silver, Room 65, The Whiteley Galleries, case 21

This miniature salt box is a toy. The term toy included any knick-knack or fashionable trinket for adults, as well as a child’s plaything. Silver toys like this one copied the exact details and proportions of normal sized pieces and came in a variety of subjects and sizes, ranging from domestic utensils to elaborate furniture.

There are several explanations for them. They might have been intended to furnish dolls’ houses. They might have been miniature trade samples. They might have been practice pieces for apprentices. They might have been fashionable novelties for adults to collect or they might simply have been playthings for rich children. In 1571, the daughter of Henry II of France ordered a set of small silver ‘pots, bowls, plates and other articles’ to give to a royal child.

The high point of production in London was the period 1700-1750. Because they were light and small, silver toys are not fully hallmarked. The form of the maker’s or retailer’s mark helps to date them.

Physical description

Salt box

Place of Origin

London (made)


1725-1728 (made)


Slater, James (maker)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

Mark of James Slater

No hallmarks


Height: 4.1 cm, Length: 7 cm

Object history note

Bequest - Mrs D S F Campbell
Acquisition RF: 76 / 2060

Historical context note

D.S.F. Campbell Bequest
This is a collection of silver toys, mainly English dating from the 17th and 18th centuries with some Dutch pieces, said to have belonged originally to Queen Victoria. According to Mrs Campbell's papers, they were given by the Duchess of Kent to Mrs Salina Bracebridge, née Mills, in recognition of her work with Florence Nightingale in the Crimea, c.1855.

Descriptive line

Silver, mark of James Slater, London, 1725-28

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Poliakoff, M., Silver Toys and Miniatures, V&A pub. pl. 81., pp. 36.

Labels and date

No hallmarks (London)
Mark of James Slater used between 1725-28
Mrs D.S.F. Campbell Bequest
M.240-1976 [26/11/1996]




Children & Childhood; Metalwork


Metalwork Collection

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