European Decorative Arts and Sculpture
VinaigretteMade in Birmingham, England, Europe
Samuel Pemberton, English (active Birmingham), active 1773
Currently not on view
1969-224-539Alan Dewees Wood Collection, 1969
A vinaigrette is a small box that was designed to hold an aromatic vinegar-soaked sponge intended to mask unpleasant odors. The box has an inner pierced lid, usually gilded to protect it from corrosion, which conceals the perfumed sponge.
The first vinaigrettes appeared in England in the late 18th century and were carried on the person and sniffed as an antidote or prophylactic to distasteful smells. In the early days of their use vinaigrettes were carried by both men and women, and were also exchanged as tokens of affection.