Antique Silver Vinaigrette


Stock: 8381

Date: 1842

Maker: Joseph Willmore

Country: England

An excellent quality antique sterling silver vinaigrette with a gilt finish. The cast cathedral top has a deep relief representation...

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An excellent quality antique sterling silver vinaigrette with a gilt finish. The cast cathedral top has a deep relief representation of York Minster. The reverse side has a crisp engine turned finish with a central cartouche (uninscribed). The interior is finely gilded and the grill is pierced and engraved with pluming scrolls, flowers and leaves. Weight 41 grams, 1.3 troy ounce. Height 1.2 cms. Length 4.5 cms. Width 3.2 cms. Birmingham 1842. Maker Joseph Willmore.

Literature: Vinaigrettes, popular from the late 18th century through the end of the 19th century, were small containers used for holding various aromatic substances, usually dissolved in vinegar. A tiny piece of sponge, soaked in the liquid, was contained beneath a grill or perforated cover. Ladies used to carry a vinaigrette with them to combat the aroma from the waste products common in cities. Likewise, the practice of wearing tight corsets also regularly caused woman to faint, requiring the need to carry smelling salts.


This attractive antique silver vinaigrette is in very good condition with no damage or restoration. The base and inside lid are marked with crisp, clear English silver hallmarks. Original gilt, the interior is bright, the exterior is very pale. Please note that this item is not new and will show moderate signs of wear commensurate with age. Reflections in the photograph may detract from the true representation of this item.

Maker Information

Maker: Joseph Willmore

Born in 1773, Joseph Willmore was the grandson of Thomas Willmore, an original member of the Birmingham Assay Office established 1773. Thomas’ first mark used 1773-1801 in partnership with James Alston, though working independently. Willmore was a buckle maker, Alston a button maker. Joseph registered his mark in 1806 at the Birmingham Assay Office as a snuff-box maker, for which he is highly regarded, especially for his snuff boxes with repoussé or ‘castle-top’ lids. He later also registered at the London Assay Office in 1814-15, opening a showroom in Bouverie Street. Joseph took on his grandfather’s business on his death in 1816, and expanded the variety of silver wares. For example, at the Birmingham Assay Office, he registered as a maker of knife and fork handles in 1831, and a maker of silver-gilt knives, forks and spoons in 1832. He continued to register makers marks until 1843, and died in 1855. His apprentice George Unite became a renowned silversmith in his own right.

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