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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

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Henry William Stiegel, American, 1729-1785

Salt cellar
Mid-18th century
Blue flint glass
Gift of Elizabeth E. Craig, Class of 1944W; G.2002.30.9


This piece was mold-blown, meaning that the glass was inserted or blown into a dip or part-size mold for a design that was then expanded by additional blowing. The salt cellar, made in a mold with twenty-six ribs, has the added appeal of color. Colored glass was achieved through the addition of mineral oxides and metallic compounds such as cobalt, which yielded the blue glass seen here. The scarcity of salt at various points in our history made it a valued commodity. Tradition holds that salt cellars were usually placed in the middle of a table and that a guest’s proximity to the host, who sat at the head of the table—“above the salt” or “below the salt”—reflected his or her status. After moistureabsorbing agents were added to salt beginning early in the twentieth century, it could be sold ground and served in salt shakers rather than open dishes.

Last Updated: 5/1/09