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Assorted regalia from the Crown Jewels

The Crown Jewels are the most complete collection of royal regalia in the world

Johann Hass

The Exeter Salt c.1630

Silver gilt and enamel, mounted with almandine garnets, turquoises, sapphires, emeralds, rubies, amethysts | 45.7 cm x 30.2 cm x 30.2 cm | RCIN 31772

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The most extravagant component of the new banqueting plate was the Salt of State, also known as the Exeter Salt.  The vessel's form had developed in the Middle Ages, when English craftsmen devised increasingly elaborate vessels in which to serve good quality salt, which was a highly sought-after commodity.  By the time of the Restoration, it was traditional for those dining with the monarch to rise to their feet in respect when the salt was set on the royal table. 

For Charles II's coronation banquet, a new salt made by the Hamburg goldsmith Johann Hass was presented by the city of Exeter, perhaps to make amends for having failed to support his father, Charles I, during the Civil War.  The 46 cm high vessel is in the shape of a tower with turrets, supported by four dragons and decorated with frogs and lizards.  It is encrusted with garnets, turquoises, sapphires, emeralds, rubies and amethysts, and cost £500, a considerable sum in the mid-seventeenth century.  The main salt cellar is concealed in the central tower beneath a lid, but small drawers in the base function as additional compartments for salt or spices.