Salt was an expensive commodity, and salts were introduced to the table first in silver medium. The present form with upright scrolls derives from silver salts introduced in the 1630s. The scrolls are thought to have supported either a plate or a napkin. In Delftware at Historic Deerfield, 1600-1800, p. 91, Amanda E. Lange quotes a contemporary reference, published in Randle Holme, An Academy of Armory, Ch. XIV, p. 5: (the scrolls) were used "to sett an other dish upon; which kinde of stands, being so sett, make the feast looke full and noble as if there were two tables or one dish above another." Another delftware form with three upright scrolls is found with a "ruffled" rim as opposed the flat rim of the present example.
The earliest and only dated example of this form is inscribed 'A.W. 1675' and was formerly in the Longridge Collection, illustrated by Leslie B. Grigsby, The Longridge Collection of English Slipware and Delftware, London, 2000, pp. 232-233, cat. no. D. 208. Grigsby refers to the 1699 inventory of John Robins, the manager of the Pickleherring factory, where 375 "small Curles salts", "middle curles saltes" and "large curles salts" are listed, "curles" referring most likely to the appendages on the salts, ibid. p. 232.
An undecorated salt of this form is illustrated by Ivor Noël Hume, Early English Delftware from London and Virginia, Williamsburg, 1977, p. 29, pl. 16, where the author draws parallels with a flower vase with similar scrolls (see lot 659 for a similar vase) and dates it to the second half of the 17th century. Scrolls and other fragments that relate to this form have been excavated on several sites in North America, including New Haven, Plymouth and New Hampshire, ibid., p. 19. Amanda E. Lange refers to fragments of salts with scrolls being excavated at Platform Wharf in Rotherhithe, at Pickleherring Pottery in Southwark, at Norfolk House in Lambeth and at Mark Brown's Wharf in Southwark, Delftware at Historic Deerfield, 1600-1800, Deerfield, 2001, p. 91 where the author illustrates a similar salt, p. 90, cat. no. 48. Other similar examples are illustrated by Michael Archer and Brian Morgan, Fair as China Dishes, English Delftware from the Collection of Mrs. Marion Morgan and Brian Morgan, Washington D.C., 1977, p. 39, cat. no. 18 ; Frank Britton, London Delftware, London, 1987, p. 115, cat. no. 44; John Austin, British Delft at Williamsburg, Williamsburg, 1994, p. 189, cat. no. 369; and two others in Michael Archer, Delftware in the Fitzwilliam Museum, 1997, London, p. 273, cat. no. G. 4.
A similar example from the Collection of Susan and Mark Laracy was sold in these rooms, January 20, 2007, lot 203. Other examples sold at auction include: Property of Mrs. Marion Morgan and Brian Morgan, Sotheby's, London, March 25, 1980, lot 15; Phillips, London, March 11, 1987, lot 82; and the Price Glover Collection, Christie's, London, June 14, 1988, lot 4.