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Salt and Pepper Shaker Collectibles

Updated: May 24

How many times a week do you hear, “Can you pass the salt?” at the dinner table? Whether you enjoy hosting intimate dinner parties for your friends or love the look of a vibrant tablescape, the salt and pepper shaker set you choose matters more than you think. They’re more than receptacles for tasty seasonings—they’re a way to show off your style!

Whether you want to start a unique collection or are looking for showstopping tabletop décor to complement your vintage table linens, salt and pepper shaker sets are the way to go. It’s high time to leave the same old pair behind and invest in charming shakers from decades past. 

The History of Salt and Pepper Shakers

Salt and pepper shaker sets seem commonplace, but the history of these vital kitchen accessories spans all the way back to 1858. Before that year, the average people kept their spices in small bowls and sprinkled salt onto food with a spoon. 

The game was changed forever when John Mason (inventor of the Mason Jar!) dreamed up a small jar design capped with holes, allowing the user to shake a spice directly on food. Before long, different dinnerware and ceramic companies were capitalizing on this brilliant invention and creating colorful and classic shaker sets for the world to enjoy.  

These days, spice shaker sets continue to be a popular way to personalize a dinner table. With over 150 years of vintage salt and pepper shaker designs to choose from, there are different eras, characters, and colors to find at antique mall locations near you. Whether you love the timeless, sleek look of white ceramic jars or a funkier character design, shakers remain a favorite for collectors and vintage lovers alike.

Are Salt and Pepper Shaker Sets Worth Collecting?

There’s beauty in the mundane—and that includes the shakers you use every day to season your recipes! Whether you're searching for a pair shaped like your favorite character or want to invest in valuable items, salt and pepper shaker sets are worth collecting for all kinds of reasons. If they bring you joy or you love the look of them, shakers are always worth picking up at the vendor mall when you come across them. 

3 Considerations for Salt and Pepper Shaker Value

Shakers are sold for a wide price range, from a couple of dollars to thousands. Certain vintage salt and pepper shakers can be extremely valuable, and whether you come across an older set in your grandmother’s house or find a mid-century modern set at an Indiana antique mall event, there are a few considerations for determining the value:

1. Rarity

Salt and pepper shaker sets are often priced based on rarity. As with most collectible items, the rarer a set is, the more people are willing to pay for it. Whether it’s because of a manufacturer error or there seem to only be a couple in existence, vintage salt and pepper shaker collectors assign more value to rare shakers and pay more to add them to their collection. 

2. Condition

If you find a salt and pepper shaker set in mint condition, meaning there are no blemishes, issues, or damages on either one, it will be worth more. But if you find a set with minor damage, don’t discount it! Certain collectors are willing to pay for these pieces anyway, especially if it’s within their niche or they have a personal connection to that type of design. 

3. Materials

Plastic, porcelain, wood, glass, metal, sterling silver, and ceramics are all popular choices for salt and pepper shaker set materials. Vintage salt and pepper shakers made with high-quality metal or valuable antique glass offer a timeless elegance to a dinner table. Milk glass was one of the earliest materials used, and whether it’s been dyed or painted with bright colors or features a classic white hue, this material lends itself to countless design possibilities. 

Popular Salt and Pepper Shaker Set Manufacturers

When you’re searching the aisles of an antique mall in Chicago, keep a look out for adorable matching sets from these vintage brands:

  • Holt Howard—invented the cartoonish, elf-like faces known as Pixieware

  • Napco Ceramics—revered for their adorable creatures and child-like designs

  • Lego Imports—known for statuesque animals and kids

  • Enesco—often designed little creatures such as snails and rodents

  • Fiesta—created colorful sets to match their famous dinnerware

  • McCoy—made famous for their colorful vegetable shapes

  • Lefton—beloved for their bluebirds and adorable kittens

Where Can You Buy Vintage Salt and Pepper Shakers?

These useful trinkets can be found just about anywhere, from yard sales to basement storages and more, but if you want to search through a uniquely curated collection, your best bet is to visit your local antique mall or shop online. You can sort through each booth and showcase at an Illinois vendor mall to find the perfect pair to take home. Certain collectors specialize in vintage salt and pepper shaker designs, while others have a broader approach, focusing on items from a certain era or an eclectic array of antiques they love. Look through every inch of the place, and you can come across vibrant shakers at every turn. 

Online services like eBay, individual seller websites, and vintage forums are stocked with different vintage salt and pepper shaker designs, from adorable cherub children to mid-century modern pieces and more. Browse through different shapes and styles from the comfort of your own home to begin your salt and pepper shaker set collection. 

Alternative Uses for Vintage Salt and Pepper Shakers

If a salt and pepper shaker set has any damage, or you love the design but don’t need another on your table, there are plenty of creative options for upcycling these darling pieces, including:

  • Miniature flower vases

  • Trinkets on display

  • Seed dispenser

  • Pin cushion

  • Other seasonings—try cinnamon and sugar for toast or customized popcorn seasonings

Whether you’re interested in becoming a vendor and selling your stock or are searching for a playful vintage salt and pepper shaker to complete your breakfast table setting, it’s important to know the basics. After learning the three factors for determining their value, hearing about their fascinating history, and getting an overview of popular manufacturers, you’re ready to visit an antique mall and start your search!

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