How to Sell: Salt & Pepper Shakers

People collect strange things. I have an affinity for skeleton keys that I just can’t explain. What draws us to certain items? Why do we like amethyst carnival glass over rootbeer carnival glass? Or elephant figurines instead of dog figurines? I honestly don’t know.

So, even though it sounds a little strange, just trust me when I say that some people are crazy about salt and pepper shakers. I can sort of see why: they’re tiny and usually pretty inexpensive. They make great gifts to give and receive. And they come in a million sizes and shapes. You can collect these things for your entire life and still not have a complete collection.

I’m going to give you a run down on some of the more interesting types and give you examples of the ones that have passed through our doors. All the information that I’m supplying you here is coming from the Salt & Pepper Novelty Shakers Club. However, I’m not going to relay the information verbatim, and I’m definitely not going to be able to talk about each and every style of shaker that exists out there. If this is something that interests you, I highly suggest you check out that website – they’ve got invaluable information!

First up we need to answer the question: anthropomorphic or figural? As I said in a previous post, the word figural refers to something that is in the shape of a person or an animal. If something is anthropomorphic (that’s a mouthful!) it means that human characteristics were given to other objects that would normally not have a face or body. This can cover a wide array of subjects (including abstract ideas, which I always find interesting), but in shakers the most common anthropomorphic items seem to be…vegetables!

Here’s a pair of shakers that are figural.

Some people collect regular salt and pepper shakers because they like the shapes or simplicity of them.

These are tiny and plain, but they’re also simple and elegant.

These are a beautiful pair of iridescent shakers. Somebody is definitely going to enjoy having these on their table!

The novelty shakers are much more popular, though. Here are two types that we’ve recently run across:


These are really neat because they take two related objects and make them a pair – even if they don’t initially look like they belong together. Some examples the site gives include an ink bottle and typewriter and a kitten and ball of yarn. (You can see our own examples down a bit further.)


These are also fun because they don’t necessarily look like two pieces at first glance. Oftentimes one shaker sits on top of another one. Here’s a couple of pictures of an Enesco shaker in the shape of a kitten sitting on a pillow:

This one is a “nester” or a “stacker.”

The pillow is one shaker and the cat is the other!

There are all sorts of interesting types left to explore. Hangers, Nodders, Huggers, Squeakers, and Longboys are just a few! Visit this page to learn about these and more!

Shaker sets (and sometimes even individuals) are usually worth putting up on eBay to see if they sell. The more unique and strange they are, the faster they’ll go! We recently had to make the decision to get rid of some inventory that had been sitting around here for a while, so we combined all the shakers we had and sold them off in a lot in order to clear some space as quickly as possible.

Here’s a picture of the lot. Note that most of them are figural. And check out the three go-withs that we had! (The broom/stove, the bear/beehive, and the turtle/frog.)

What’s the weirdest thing that you collect? Have you ever come across any strange salt and pepper shakers?


My Weekly Score: Figural Cigar Cutters

(Just a side note that this is our 50th post. Hooray!!)

We’ve had pretty good luck with vintage tobacciana products – that’s stuff that has to do with tobacco and smoking. Whether it be ashtrays or lighters, we always turn a nice profit on them.

This time around, we had three different cigar cutters up for sale…and they all sold to the same person! Each one was made of brass and in the shape of some sort of animal. They didn’t have any major identifying marks, but I was able to track down one of them and date it to the late 1800s. Chances are the others were of a similar age.

First up we have this beautiful cutter in the shape of a dragon, with a dog on the opposite side. This one was my favorite and it was HUGE! It was almost 10” long and about 4” wide.

Next was this neat one that looks plain at first glance, but is actually in the shape of a bird. I didn’t think it was going to sell, but at the last minute someone bid on it!

This one was definitely a close second when it came to which one was my favorite. This is also the cutter I was able to pinpoint the date on. It’s in the shape of a horse and is made in such a way that when you open and close it, it looks like it’s running! It’s dressed up in full wartime regalia.

We bought the dragon cutter for $22.40 and the other two were $5.60 each. That’s a total of $33.60. We ended up selling the dragon cutter for $44.99, the bird for $34.99, and the horse for $41.00. That’s a total of $120.98. That’s over three times what we initially paid for them!

My Weekly Score: Lion Lamp

You might remember this little beauty from our “Word of the Week” post about figural items.

It is an original kerosene lamp made of brass and frosted glass. It has hand painted flowers across the glass in the middle, as well as four lion heads protruding from each side.

The really neat thing about this lamp is the fact that it hasn’t been converted – it has no cords or wiring running through it! It has a circular wick along the outside of the top and a compartment for oil beneath. It didn’t come with a lamp shade or chimney, but it was otherwise in excellent condition.

We bought it for about $30 and ended up selling it for $153.50! I knew it was going to do well – it’s such a beautiful piece! – but I never thought we would get five times our money back!

I love when that happens. 🙂

I think it sold for so much for a variety of reasons: the fact that it was old and original, the fact that it was hand painted, and the fact that the lion heads made it unique and regal looking. Keep an eye out for any of these elements and you should do well!

Word of the Week: Figural

The term figural denotes an object that has a human or animal form.

This is a great term to use in your eBay listings or if you’re just searching the internet for some cute new things to add to your collection. People love figural salt & pepper shakers, vases, mugs, jewelry, etc. Sometimes they’re looking for certain shapes (ie. bears or retro looking women), but other times it just doesn’t matter what it is!

Here are a bunch of examples of figural items that we’ve come across during our time selling:

This is a Wade trinket box in the shape of a turtle.

This is a Bosson's chalkware figurine, in the shape of an old sea captain's head.

Here's a figural brooch, in the shape of a hummingbird.

A mask in the shape of a woman's head also counts!

If you look closely, you'll see that the lamp has tiny lion heads protruding from the center of the glass.

And lastly we have a candlestick holder in the shape of an old man.