Shaker Form Types
By Sally Sebert
The word "Novelty" in our club title means we primarily collect figural or character shakers, i.e., those in the form of people, objects, or animals. We do not collect the classic painted floral or standard cylindrical restaurant-style shakers.
Materials to make novelty shakers are limitless. Shakers can be glass, porcelain, plastic, ceramic, metal, wood, etc.
The following definitions describe the majority of the 'structural types' or forms of salt and pepper sets. They do not include the various 'design types' the shakers can be, such as comic or realistic animals, realistic or anthropomorphic objects or vegetables, and so on.
Many shakers can be more than one form type - e.g., a Longboy may also be a One-piece, a Wire set may also be a Hanger, etc. Many variations and combinations of types exist that none of us know for sure what "true type" name to give them, such as a combination Holder, Hanger Three-Piece set!
Finally, the definitions include general 'shaker lingo' that members use.
What's a Pair?
Any salt and pepper shaker set in its original combination is a pair. Any of the definitions apply as well if the two shakers hug, sit on one another, are formed into one-piece, etc. If the pair of shakers does none of these things, it is simply called a pair.
A Bench Sitter set:
- Usually consists of two people or animal shakers designed to sit on the bench that was sold with the set.
- Benches can be wooden, ceramic, or metal.
- Usually has the main characteristic of the shakers in a sitting position with knees bent and feet hanging down, not touching the shelf. There are some small sets without legs hanging down - just slightly bent knees.
Some sitter sets have only one sitter beside an object on the bench, some may not have originally come with a bench, and some are actually a nester/stacker with one of the shakers as a base with the other shaker seated on it.
Bench Sitters or Sitter Examples:
These shaker types are usually forms of condiments, three-piece, and/or hangers.
- A carrier set is usually a person or animal base with baskets, flowers, barrels or tools as shakers resting on top of some part of their arms, saddles or sides.
- A cart set is typically an animal pulling a cart or wagon with shakers sitting on or hanging from the cart and possibly a sugar and creamer and/or vinegar and oil.
- A holder set is a person or animal base with arms wrapped around the shakers to support them. The arms may be around built-in bins or cups that the shakers sit into as well.
Carrier, Cart and Holder Examples:
A complete condiment set includes two shakers, a third container or pot with a lid and spoon for mustard or sugar, and a tray base - six pieces in all. The third container may be part of the tray as long as it has a separate lid.
The two little angels sitting on the blue swan mustard or sugar pot are actually a one-piece shaker that also serves as the lid. This condiment only has three pieces.
Some very early condiment sets have a mustard pot but instead of one or more shaker pieces, have small dish-shaped areas formed in the base with tiny spoons.
Condiment Set Examples:
Go-With shaker sets consist of two different but related objects with a common theme, e.g., ball and bat, squirrel and nut, pen and ink, telephone and phone book, etc. They can also represent a play on words, e.g., a skunk and a single-cent penny (which is a play on 'scent').
Most common are separate go-with pieces that form a pair. That pair may also be a nester such as a cup on a saucer or an airplane on an aircraft carrier.
A Hanger set must have either:
- One or both shakers with a hooked portion that enables it to hang from a base. The hanging shaker(s) must not touch the shelf.
- Both shakers hanging from the base or one shaker hanging from the other shaker which also doubles as the base.
A Hugger set is where both shaker pieces touch the shelf and:
- One shaker partially wraps around the other, or
- Two pieces abut each other (like two halves of the pig in the examples below), or
- Two pieces actually hug or wrap around one another.
Most huggers are designed to be picked up individually; however, the most famous huggers are the Van Tellingen hugging sets designed to be picked up in one hand and shaken left or right for the salt and pepper as if it were a one-piece. Brown Van Tellingen hugging bears appear here.
Kisser and Magnetic Sets may have:
- Two people, animals, or objects displayed with their lips together kissing, or
- One shaker kissing the other on the cheek or head.
Kissers must have both shakers touching the shelf.
Magnetic sets have magnets built into the pieces that attach their lips together, join the pieces at the hip, keep one shaker on top of the other, or keep the shakers in or on a base.
Kisser and Magnetic Examples:
Longboys or Tallboys shakers:
- Were originally called long or tallfellow
- Are at least 6 inches tall or long
- Are usually animals with narrow, elongated bodies
- May be either a pair or a one-piece
Longboys or Tallboys Examples:
- Have some type of functional moving part(s) that aid in the dispensing of the spices or animates the set.
- Have some kind of "mechanical" working part that one must push, turn, or pull to make the shaker perform actions such as raising up the shakers out of the base like the plastic television and piano sets, dispensing the salt or pepper as in push-button sets, walking, or lighting up, etc.
Mini's or miniature shaker sets get their name from their tiny size - only one-half inch or less to two inches in height.
Arcadia Ceramics produced some of the finest and most detailed sets in the 1950's. The dress form and sewing machine set from Arcadia is shown in its' original "dome" packaging making it more valuable than sets without.
Club members Sandy Srp and Laura and the late Carl Urban have created many unique miniature pairs, condiments, and nodder sets.
Napkin holder sets usually have a napkin holder as a base with the two shakers twisting into holes in the upper front or sitting on the front or side edges.
Napkin Holder Examples:
A nester or stacker is a set where:
- One of the shakers sits upon part of the other without touching the shelf.
- The base shaker totally supports the upper shaker.
Nester or Stacker Examples:
Nodder shaker sets consists of a base, usually rectangular, with two holes on the top that the tubular-based shakers sit in. Each shaker is longer than usual and has a figural top with a long "tube" base for balance that sits down into the hole in the base with tiny flanges on either side near the top of the tube portion. The flanges enable the shaker to balance on the rims of the holes and nod up and down or back and forth when gently touched.
Birds and animals are popular nodder subjects as are people's heads nodding on their bodies or sticking out of barrels or bathtubs.
One-piece shakers are unique because both salt and pepper are dispensed from one shaker piece. The shaker may be one figural form with a division inside to separate the spices or consist of two separate figural forms pressed together while the porcelain or ceramic is still wet to form a union. Either way, the finished piece is one shaker with separate fill and shaker holes for both salt and pepper.
Classic styles are the bellboys with their suitcases and the longboy animals with salt in one end and pepper in the other.
Rocker shakers rock on their rounded bases when touched. They may have:
- The same rocker base on both pieces of a set, or
- One piece that sits on top of the rocking piece (such as a person in a rocking chair), or
- Shakers sitting on top of a base that rocks (such as a wedding couple in a two-faced rocker).
Shakers Plus refers to sets that incorporate some other useful item into the design of the shaker set itself.
A pair of animals or objects with vinegar and oil cruet bodies with the shakers serving as both their heads or tops and as the cruet stoppers is a good example. Other examples are sets with bells built in underneath or separate bases that serve as egg cups as well.
Shaker Plus Examples:
Snow Dome and Snow Globe shakers have a liquid-filled glass or clear plastic portion incorporated into one or both shakers with glitter or snow-looking material floating in it. When the shaker dispenses the salt or pepper it puts on a snow display afterwards.
The older sets are almost always made of plastic and may have a variety of either souvenir site or Winter/Christmas designs. Newer sets often combine ceramic and glass with the globe sitting on a ceramic object base.
Snow Dome and Snow Globe Examples:
Spikes or Bobbers are usually:
- A nester set with the base shaker having a pointed or narrow rounded top that the upper shaker rests on and bobs and rotates when touched.
- Animals or people with their bodies as the base shaker with a concave head sitting on a point.
There is a series of three-piece bobbers where the base has two bodies with points built into it and two like animal shaker heads that bob on the points.
Spikes or Bobbers Examples:
Squeaker shakers usually have a noise maker built into the base of each shaker that makes a meowing or crying noise whenever the shaker is turned over.
The device that makes the shakers squeak is shown above. These devices have a weight that drives the air through thin paper layers. It is unusual to find an old squeaker set that still works because the paper deteriorates with age and did not tolerate washing well.
Some more recent shakers have battery operated noise devices that say something or make a noise when the shaker is tipped.
Three-piece shaker sets:
- Consist of a set of shakers that sit down on a base or in a basket which serves as their third piece.
- May resemble a condiment set but don't have the third container for other spices.
If the shakers hang from the base, are held up higher on the base, or sit on the edge of a napkin holder base, then they are a Hanger, Holder, or Napkin Holder as well as a three-piece, but they take the title of their most defining feature.
TurnABout shaker sets usually consist of two shaker people with a different face and clothing on either side, e.g., a happy bride and groom that when turned around show an aging couple or weary parents, a pair of little school children that when turned around become graduates in caps and gowns, etc.
Wire and Spring sets have some form of metal wire supports.
Wire sets include:
- Metal wire shaped objects that ceramic shakers sit or hang on such as hanger supports or benches.
- wire napkin holders that support shakers.
- Animals and characters with wire bodies and legs with shaker objects or body halves hanging from their sides.
Spring sets have shaker heads fastened to bases in the shape of tapered springs that make the set wobble when touched. The shakers may also be supported on wire.
Wire or Spring Examples: