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Vinaigrettes

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From the late eighteenth century onwards silver vinaigrettes were carried by people and used for inhaling when smells were unpleasant. Inside they have a little sponge which is impregnated with an aromatic substance (based on vinegar), which is concealed under a pierced and often engraved grille. The interiors were always silver gilt to protect the silver from staining. They were often exchanged between lovers as tokens of affections. The makers of vinaigrettes were much influenced by contemporary fashions in woodwork, architecture and painting. That is why nearly every technique of the silversmith's craft was exploited in their manufacture; chasing, filigree, repoussé, beading and engine turning. It is because the designs and decoration vary so much that they make the perfect item for the collector.