Miniature Salt Box

1725-1728 (made)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Silver, Room 65, The Whiteley Galleries
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Silver
Brief Description
Silver, mark of James Slater, London, 1725-28
Physical Description
Salt box
Dimensions
  • Height: 4.1cm
  • Length: 7cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Mark of James Slater
  • No hallmarks
Gallery Label
SALT BOX No hallmarks (London) Mark of James Slater used between 1725-28 Mrs D.S.F. Campbell Bequest M.240-1976(26/11/1996)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Mrs D.S.F. Campbell
Object history
Bequest - Mrs D S F Campbell

Acquisition RF: 76 / 2060
Historical context
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.
Summary
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.
Bibliographic Reference
Poliakoff, M., Silver Toys and Miniatures, V&A pub. pl. 81., pp. 36.
Collection
Accession Number
M.240-1976

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record createdSeptember 10, 2004
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