Skip to main content


William & Edward Turnpenny (English, (active Birmingham), marked entered 1844)

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.

Object Details

We are always open to learning more about our collections and updating the website. Does this record contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? Contact us here.

Please note that this particular artwork might not be on view when you visit. Don’t worry—we have plenty of exhibitions for you to explore.