The meaning behind lion mark on English salt cellar 

Published 6:45 pm Friday, February 28, 2020

Question: Jerry, what would this little bowl be used for? I got it here at a yard sale last year for $5. I’m just now getting around to asking you about it. It’s got some silver marks on the bottom that I don’t know what they mean. The blue bowl comes out. It’s 2 inches tall and 2 and a half inches across the top. Any value?

Answer: You have an English master salt cellar or holder. There was a time that salt was very expensive and only the finest materials were used to hold it. That cobalt blue glass liner is there to keep the salt from eating away at the silver. Remember, salt is highly corrosive. 

Let’s talk about your marks on the bottom. The mark with the lion, called the lion passant, is the sterling standard. This means it’s silver and not plated. The mark with the three little castles on it denotes that it’s from Newcastle. The mark of the

man’s head is for George IV, the reigning monarch at the time. The letter H is is the date mark and that tells us that it was made in 1822 – 1823. And the TW initials mean it was made by Thomas Watson.

So, those marks mean that it was made from sterling silver in Newcastle from 1822 – 1823 by the silversmith Thomas Watson. It’s a nice, nice piece. Now, we may never know, but it was common to have these salt cellars in pairs. Your single is still collectible and desirable. Don’t be afraid of it. It will polish beautifully. Your little “steal” for $5, would at a nice antiques show, be priced for about $175. Kudos to you! Thanks for a great question.