Silver vinaigrette in the shape of a skull

Made:
1701-1800 in Europe
maker:
Unknown

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(A642133) Silver vinaigrette in the form of a skull, hinged, opens into two halves, with a perforated silver gilt inner
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. From left
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. Clockwise
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Group shot of various memento mori, showing the variety of origins and different materials in the collection. Clockwise
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London.

Silver vinaigrette in the form of a skull, hinged, opens into two halves, with a perforated silver gilt inner lid, engraved with initials, unsigned, Europe, 1701-1800

Likes pomanders, vinaigrettes could be used as a vessel to hold strong smelling substances to be sniffed should the user be passing through a particularly smelly area. At a time when miasma theories of disease – the idea that disease was carried by foul air – were dominant, carrying a vinaigrette was considered a protective measure. Vapours from a vinegar-soaked sponge in the bottom were inhaled through the small holes in the top of the ‘acorn’. If a person felt faint they could also sniff their vinaigrette and the sharp vinegar smell might shock the body into action. The skull was probably hung from a piece of cord or necklace and carried at all times. It is shown here with another skull-shaped example (A641486).

Details

Category:
Pharmacy-ware
Object Number:
A642133
Materials:
gold (plated), ? material, silver
type:
vinaigrette
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
credit:
Loan, Wellcome Trust

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