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Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

The Exeter Salt

Overview

Creator: Johann Hass (goldsmith)
Creation Date: 
c.1630
Materials: 
Silver gilt
Dimensions: 
45.7 cm
RCIN 
31772
Acquirer: Charles II, King of Great Britain (1630-85), when King of Great Britain de facto (1660-85)
Provenance: 
Given to King Charles II by the City of Exeter, 1660
Description:

A silver-gilt table salt in the form of a tower with cylindrical corner turrets and a tall central turret with an open gallery and domed roof above, resting on a chased mound supported by dragons on ball feet, the salt is encrusted with jewels. The body of the salt (or spice box) is fitted with small drawers.

For many years this salt was thought to be a model of the White Tower (part of the Tower of London). It is, in fact, a fantasy castle and the only surviving work of the Hamburg goldsmith Johann Hass. A similar piece in the form of a castle, which acts as a perfume burner, may be found in the Armoury collection of the Kremlin, in Moscow. The salt was one of four pieces delivered to the royal goldsmith, Thomas Vyner, by Richard Bradshaw, Resident of Hamburg. The salt was presented to Charles II by the Parliamentarian stronghold of Exeter, possibly as a gift of propitiation. It was at this date that Vyner added the jewelled mounts. The windows of the castle were enamelled for the Coronation banquet of George IV in 1821.

Johann Hass is recorded as a member of the Hamburg Goldsmiths' Guild from 1621, when he was granted citizenship. He took three sons and six others as apprentices and died in 1650.

Further details

Additional Creators: Sir Robert Viner, 1st Baronet (1631-88) (retailer/supplier)
Rundell Bridge & Rundell (jeweller)
Category: 
Silver