Unmarked silver and enamel ladybird vinaigrette – £5000 at Woolley & Wallis.

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Vinaigrettes, which offered a practical and fashionable solution to poor sanitation, took on many forms, from simple silver boxes to various novelty items.

Among the latter offered as part of the October 25-26 Silver & Objects of Vertu sale in Salisbury was an unmarked silver and enamel vinaigrette, c.1900, modelled as a ladybird with sprung wings which open to reveal a grille.

Bought by the vendor from Steppes Hill Farm Antiques in 1981, it is a rare form and took £5000 (estimate £800-1200).


William IV castle-top vinaigrette depicting Tintern Abbey – £5500 at Woolley & Wallis.

The most desirable of the so-called castle-top boxes, typically worked with views of British buildings and monuments, are those that depict less travelled landmarks. The box pictured here by Edwin Jones (Birmingham 1836) shows Tintern Abbey. Purchased from Mary Cooke Antiques in 1983, it made £5500 (estimate £1000-1500).

Continental contribution


A 17th century German parcel-gilt setzbecher – £9500 at Woolley & Wallis.

Among the continental silver in Salisbury was a 3½in (9cm) German parcel-gilt beaker, or setzbecher. These beakers, that could be compactly stacked in sets of six or 12, were popular from the mid-16th century with this (apparently unmarked) example dating from c.1670.

Much of its appeal lies in the engraving that, to the borders, features various domestic scenes including a court jester playing a lute in front of a lady and gentleman, and to the stem and foot, a running stag, a bear and scenes from a wild boar hunt.

Estimated at £6000-8000, it took £9500.