Antique salt & pepper shakers are all the craze in the world of antique collecting and for a good reason. These vintage items are incredibly beautiful, well-made, intricate in design, and definitely one-of-a-kind shakers that will stand out in any kitchen. If you’re looking to purchase them yourself, you should know that the prices for vintage shakers are pretty high-end. This is especially true for those made by artists, or old companies. Foreign shakers, like those from Europe, Japan, or Mexico are highly valued and can cost up to several thousand dollars. Before you go on to purchase antique shakers, make sure to check your grandparents’ kitchen, just in case; at one point every American household had these shakers, so there’s a high chance you find a set in your grandma’s kitchen.

For a long time, people tried to turn away from the gimmicky, kitschy salt and pepper shakers. However, with the rise of the so-called country lifestyle (inspired by the charming country home and kitchen decor), people have started searching for their own special and antique kitchenware, including vintage salt and pepper shakers. Electric shakers are a thing of yesterday; it is time to turn to the old-school salt and pepper shakers and bring some old-time peacefulness to our homes.

If this sounds interesting to you and you’d like to start exploring or collecting antique s&p shakers, you’re in the right place. In the following paragraphs, we’ll talk a bit about these vintage s&p shakers, how one can identify the real deals, and of course, the value of these items. We’ll also share with you our favorite online marketplaces for purchasing genuine s&p shakers, so make sure to stick around. Without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Antique Salt & Pepper Shakers – Everything You Need To Know

Quick Overview and Interesting Info

Before we get into the main information, we thought it would be fun to share with you some interesting information about the origin, use, style, and overall existence of these vintage s&p shakers;

  • The use of what we nowadays know as salt and pepper shakers are believed to have started in 17th-century Europe. The shakers became popular in the 1870s after salt became refined and moved into shakers with perforated tops.
  • It is also believed that the first salt & pepper shakers were used or invented in China, the USA, or colonial places. However, no one knows who actually came up with the idea to put seasoning in small, confined bottles or storage containers.
  • The common salt & pepper shakers were invented by John Mason in 1858 (who also invented the Mason jar), and they were revolutionary. People could season there would using these free-flowing little bottles. However, it took a long time for the shakers to become a staple in every household since the salt would clump together and become impossible to use/shake out of the cap.
  • In the 1920s, with the introduction of the anti-caking agent by the Morton Salt Company, we see a great boost in s&p shaker use, which continued into the years of the Great Depression.
  • In the 1930s, and onwards, salt & pepper shaker production skyrocketed, and ceramic producers began creating these inexpensive shakers for household use. They started coming up with an original, unique design, basically competing against each other.
  • As years went by, salt & pepper shakers started becoming more retro, and were made from ceramic, wood, celluloid, and plastic.
  • Because of the diversity of the design, people began collecting salt & pepper shakers, which also became a hobby for many, even nowadays.

How To Identify Vintage Salt & Pepper Shakers?

Before purchasing any vintage item, it is essential to know the item’s origin, when it was made, and of course, who made it. The same goes for the antique salt & pepper shakers. By knowing this information, it is easy to determine whether an item is genuine or fake, which can help you avoid getting scammed. Here are some tips and tricks you can use to identify vintage salt & pepper shakers, even if you’re just starting out this journey;

  • Knowing the manufacturer – Turn the shaker upside down and take a look at the bottom. There should be a manufacturer’s mark of some kind if the items are truly vintage and genuine. The majority of the shakers were crafted/made in the USA, but you may come across items made in the UK/England, Germany, Japan, and many other countries. You can verify the information by having an expert examine the shakers.
  • Determining the age/year of making – The best way to determine when the shakers were made is to have them examined by an expert. Usually, the date/year when the items were made is not featured on the shakers themselves, so it can be hard to trace them back in time. This also allows for replicas and fake items to reach collectors, which is unfortunate and often money-wasting. Have an expert check the salt & pepper shakers before you make a final decision.
  • Material and design – Determining the material of the shakers can help immensely in knowing whether the items are genuine or fake. Truly vintage salt & pepper shakers were made from ceramics, wood, and other unusual materials. They were not made from plastic, steel, or glass. The truly vintage salt & pepper shakers are often quirky in design, heavily adorned and colored as well.

Where To Buy Antique Salt & Pepper Shakers?

If you’re looking to purchase some quirky, cute, interesting salt & pepper shakers to collect or simply spice up your kitchen decor, make sure to check the following vintage/antique marketplaces;

  • Etsy – of course, Etsy is indispensable when it comes to everything antique. Here, you can find some exceptional examples of genuine vintage salt & pepper shakers. From the most ridiculous to the most intriguing ones, there’s something for everyone. If you have any specific interests, or designs you’re into, there is probably a corresponding salt & pepper shaker available for purchase on Etsy.
  • 1stDibs – this is an excellent place to check out if you’re looking for mint-condition, high-end salt & pepper shakers. They are antique, unique, and in perfect condition with clear origin and manufacturer information. Here, you’ll find vintage salt & pepper shakers from japan, European countries, specific theme shakers, and so much more. The prices are also higher-end, so make sure to keep that in mind if your budget is a bit tighter.
  • Ruby Lane – this is a perfect marketplace for those looking to buy cheaper, but still vintage and good-condition salt & pepper shakers. Here, you’ll find collectible antique shakers in good or even mint condition that will be a great addition to any kitchen. The items are identified to come from specific manufacturers or countries and are all checked for genuineness. There are also higher-end items as well, so basically, there’s something for everyone’s budget and interests.

The Most Valuable Antique Salt & Pepper Shakers

Reed & Barton Francis I Sterling Shakers

Reed and Barton Francis I Sterling Shakers

These Reed & Barton salt & pepper shakers are among the most expensive antique shakers you can find. The items are full-size and are made from sterling silver. They were made by Reed & Barton in 1949 and generally come in perfect or mint condition. Some versions still come with the original gold top on the pepper shaker, which is also a good indicator of the originality and genuineness of the item.

The shakers feature the Francis I pattern (this is the old American sterling-silver pattern, introduced by the R&B company in 1906) and are of the so-called Art Nouveau style. For mint condition Reed and Barton salt and pepper shakers, you can expect to pay up to 500 USD on average. In some cases, these salt and pepper shakers are sold for thousands of dollars as well.

Enesco Sweet Shoppe Vintage Ceramic Salt and Pepper Shakers

Enesco Sweet Shoppe Vintage Ceramic Salt And Pepper Shakers

These Enesco vintage salt & pepper shakers were originally made in japan in the 1950s. Nowadays, they’re described as kitsch and gimmicky, but are in reality super cute and a great addition to any kitchen. The majority of the Enesco vintage shakers are sold for up to 50 USD, but the condition and rarity of the specific Sweet Shoppe shakers make them much more valuable. The shakers are ceramic and feature wonderful artwork and an untouched color scheme. If you’re looking to buy this exact salt & pepper set, you can expect to pay up to 400 USD.

Sanborns Sterling Silver Pheasant Salt and Pepper Shakers

Sanborns Sterling Silver Pheasant Salt And Pepper Shakers

These salt and pepper shakers are nothing you’ve seen before. They’re made to look like pheasants, and they are incredible pieces of art. Made from sterling silver, usually in excellent condition, these shakers are highly valuable. The intricate engravings and attention to detail make these shakers truly beautiful, and as such would make a great addition to any type of kitchen decor. The shakers originate from Mexico and are believed to have been made in the early 1900s, which makes them truly antique.

The shakers often come in mint condition, but often customers come across versions where the pheasants’ tales are a bit bent. Even then, the shakers are sold for a truly high-end price. In mint condition, these shakers can cost up to 400 USD.

Brinnco Japan Anthropomorphic Lamb Salt And Pepper Shakers

Brinnco Japan Anthropomorphic Lamb Salt And Pepper Shakers

If you’re a fan of small, cute things (let’s be real, we all are), then you’re going to fall in love with these Brinnco Japan Lamb salt and pepper shakers. They’re adorable, nicely colored, and made highly detailed. The shakers originate from 1950s Japan and have that truly vintage appearance. They’re also considered to be super rare.

The set often comes in mint condition, but in some cases, it is possible to have some color missing, color fading, and possibly chips and cracks from use. However, you can generally expect the shakers to come in mint condition. You can expect to pay anywhere between 325 USD and 430 USD, depending on the item condition, as well as the marketplace.

Paul Evans Salt & Pepper Walnut Shakers

These salt & pepper shakers are for those looking for a minimal, vintage, yet modern appearance to fit their contemporary kitchen decor. The set was made by artists Paul Evans and Phil Powell in the 1960s. The shakers are made from walnut and pewter and have an oval shape. The items’ design is clean, minimalistic, and very modern-looking considering the data when they were made.

The shakers often come in good condition, with minor scratches or wear marks. These marks are minimal or non-existent in mint condition shakers but as such their cost doubles or triples. On average, you can expect to pay up to 300 USD, but in mint condition, these shakers can be sold for up to 1,500 USD.

Holt Howard Cozy Kitten Salt and Pepper Shakers

Brinnco Japan Anthropomorphic Lamb Salt And Pepper Shakers

Holt Howard was a New York company known for its whimsical, cartoon-like ceramic ware. The company produced salt and pepper shakers as well, which became super popular and are nowadays sought-after among collectors. Inspired by the popular Swedish Christmas decorations, the company started producing a line of Christmas ceramics as well.

The Cozy Kittens salt and pepper shakers are among the rarest Holt Howard ceramics. They were made in 958 and are considered true antique shakers. They would come with sound boxes which would make a ‘meowing sound’, but nowadays are really hard to find. In its mint condition, this salt and pepper shaker set would cost around 255 USD, but if the shakers come with a sound box, the price could double or triple.

Final Thoughts

These antique salt and pepper shakers are surely more than just a standard kitchen must-have. They’re also pieces of art, an insight into the American and the global appreciation of something so seemingly mundane, but also special. Hopefully, we’ve helped you out in your journey to find the perfect antique s&p shakers. For more information make sure to check out the linked websites and products, and of course, don’t shy away from contacting experts and seek expert appraisal and identification services should you find an s&p shaker set you really like.

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