Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Featured Artifact: Pickle Caster

My last post featured glass Mason Jars used for canning. The object below is also made of glass but instead of a tin lid, this one is surrounded by a silver plated stand, handle, lid, and hook with tongs. And while Mason jars are still used today, few contemporary household would own one of these objects. What is it?
Mfg. by Middletown Plate Co.
Middletown, Connecticut
This is a pickle caster or pickle jar and was used to serve pickles or other relishes, not to preserve or store them.

During the late 1800s, giving elaborate dinner parties using a full complement of dishes and utensils, allowed a family to show off its wealth. If you could afford a specialized dish just for serving pickles, then you must be well-off. This notion was reinforced by the elaborate decorations on the casters. Also on the table would be elaborate soup tureens, specialized oyster plates, celery (then considered a delicacy) vases. Place settings included a variety of specialized eating utensils, such as asparagus or fish forks. And all these had to be polished and washed by hand!  While most families would not have or could have afforded all these items, the pickle caster was the one that many middle-class families chose.

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon 

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