Folks collect salt and pepper shakers for many reasons. Some inherit an existing collection, others might focus their collecting on a particular genre or manufacturer, and yet others enjoy the nostalgic feeling they get from their collection. Shakers can increase in value as particular ones become harder and harder to obtain and are highly sought after. Obviously there are many reasons why folks collect, but, the main reason is that it brings people joy.
The fun thing about salt and pepper shakers is that they are usually small in size and can fit on your kitchen shelves, desk, windowsills, and right on your dining table so no matter how small of a space you live in, there is room for salt and pepper shakers and they not only fill the practical need of condiments but also provide decoration to your living space.
Salt and pepper shaker collecting took off in the 1940s-1950s with the creation of ceramics and were being made in a variety of designs, shapes, and themes. Souvenir shakers were especially popular during this time frame as folks started taking to the roads in their Airstreams and Shasta trailers and could pick them up on their road trips at gas stations and rest stops. Shakers from this era were affordably manufactured and therefore affordable to purchase. Today, shakers come in a variety of materials from glass, wood, to metal, plastic and anything imaginable.
My salt and pepper shaker collection is primarily made up of anthropomorphic, animals and vintage Christmas shakers. My requirement is that they have to be cute and make me smile. I enjoy the thrill of the hunt so much and scour internet sites, antique shops, thrift stores and estate sales for rare and hard to find sets. I also enjoy the stories from the collectors themselves and learning what got them interested in collecting and how they found particular shakers. Collecting is also such a fun social activity as most collectors I have met love talking about their collections and sharing knowledge and information.
Anthropomorphic salt and pepper shakers usually have human-like characteristics and expressions, tend to be colorful and animated like cartoon characters. Highly collectible anthropomorphic salt and pepper shakers depict fruit faces and veggie heads like bananas, spoon & fork people, corn stalk people, cucumbers heads, pineapple heads, egg people, fish people, dogs, cats, birds, strawberry heads, flower heads, and so many more. Anthropomorphic shakers are a really fun style of shaker to collect and most are vintage at 50+ years old and have cork stoppers and most likely Made in Japan.
Here are some of my favorite vintage Christmas shakers. The above set of western cowboy Santa and Mrs. Claus shakers are dynamite!! I love how much charm they have with Santa in his cowboy hats and Mrs. Claus looks like she is cooking up something delicious on the chuckwagon. These shakers are made by M G Inc. in Japan in the 50s.
Look how cute these ballet kitty cats are wearing tutus, they have so much vintage flair.
My opening photo for this post, way up at the start of this article, take a look at those anthropomorphic little bluebird shakers made by Topline Imports in the 50s, they just melt my heart at how kitschy cute they are. The dog shakers are made by Lefton and have so much character with their rhinestone eyes and monocle. How about the typewriter head girls that glance at each other, these are another set from PY made in Japan in the 1950s and part of their office workers collection, I think they are adorable and they certainly have a top spot in my collection.
The appeal of collecting salt and pepper shakers fills many books, homes and cabinets across the world. You can find shakers easily today with a quick internet search. Prices range from $9.99 up to $275 for mint condition and scarce shakers. At auction shakers can fetch much higher prices if they are rare, made from sterling silver or fine china. Do you collect salt and pepper shakers? I’d love to see pictures and learn about your collection so please tag me on social media or send me an email.