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Silver vinaigrette in the shape of a skull, Europe, 1701-180

  • Science Museum, London
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Credit: Silver vinaigrette in the shape of a skull, Europe, 1701-180. Science Museum, London. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Likes pomanders, vinaigrettes could be used as a vessel to hold strong smelling substances to be sniffed should the user be passing through a particularly smelly area. At a time when miasma theories of disease – the idea that disease was carried by foul air – were dominant, carrying a vinaigrette was considered a protective measure. Vapours from a vinegar-soaked sponge in the bottom were inhaled through the small holes in the top of the ‘acorn’. If a person felt faint they could also sniff their vinaigrette and the sharp vinegar smell might shock the body into action. The skull was probably hung from a piece of cord or necklace and carried at all times. It is shown here with another skull-shaped example (A641486). maker: Unknown maker Place made: Europe


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