Throughout history, salt has been pivotal to civilization. Salt is essential to good health. Before the advent of electrically powered refrigeration, salting was one of the main methods of food preservation. As a flavoring, salt enhances the taste of food, making it more palatable. Salt has long held an important place in religion and culture. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans invoked their gods with offerings of salt and water, and some people think this to be the origin of Holy Water in the Christian faith.
In damp weather, moisture in the air interacts with salt, causing it to deteriorate. Salt is also caustic hence the necessity for suitable storage. A wooden container allows the salt to breathe, enhancing its quality and taste.
The saltbox was full of meaning, over and above its practical importance. It was a symbol of hospitality in Germany and suggested a well-run and comfortable home in Britain and Ireland too. Saltboxes ran the gamut from the primitive to the highly elaborate. Large receptacles were known as standing or master saltboxes, usually placed at the head of the table or on a buffet. From the master salt, smaller salt dishes were filled and positioned at each place setting.
Although in linden, my version of a master saltbox is inspired by a Charles II oak carved saltbox, circa. 1680, from Marhamchurch Antiques in Devon, England.
I decided to take liberties with the carving and have the running vine flow from the drawer front to the front and onto the sides. I am pleased with how it turned out.
All that’s lacking at this point is a lid and bottom. I am considering a dark walnut-ish dye, finished off with boiled linseed oil, and topped with a few coats of shellac.