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Silver vinaigrette, Germany, 1601-1900

If a person felt faint they could sniff their vinaigrette. Vapours from a vinegar-soaked sponge in the bottom were inhaled through the small holes in the top of the ‘acorn’. The sharp vinegar smell could shock the body into action. Vinaigrettes were mostly used by women but have also been used by men. This one is small enough to be portable and was carried in a leather case. The object is probably German.

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Glossary: vinaigrette

Small receptacles to contain scented vinegar, formerly used by women, and sometimes men, to ward off faintness. A small container with a perforated top, used to contain an aromatic substance such as vinegar or smelling salts, especially popular for women in Victorian times to combat the aroma from the waste products common in cities.