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Introduction to Types of Shakers

By Sally Sebert

The word “Novelty” in our club name means we primarily collect figural character shakers, i.e., people, animals, fruits and vegetables and objects. We do not include antique painted glass or traditional silver/metal sets as another club specializes in those nor do we collect standard cylindrical restaurant-style shakers – which doesn’t mean we do not have some in our collections!

Materials to make novelty shakers are limitless. Shakers can be glass, porcelain, plastic, ceramic, metal, wood, etc.

What’s a Novelty Pair?

Firstly, any salt and pepper shaker set in its original combination is a PAIR. What the shaker set looks like (FIGURE) and how it is formed (FORM) further define how a collector describes it. A figural character PAIR will have a FIGURE definition, but may not have a FORM definition – such as two realistic dogs that stand alone without a tray or any other unique structural feature are just a PAIR of realistic animals.

Figure Vs. Form

FIGURE is the figural character of the set – is the set a circus character (clown, dressed elephant or trained seal), a Christmas character (Santa, elf, snowman or reindeer), a marked advertising character (person, sign, or object), a person character (ethnic, realistic or funny stylized), a non-human character with human features (vegetable, egg or animal), or an animal character (realistic or funny stylized), etc.?

FORM is the structural makeup of the set – does one piece sit on top of the other, are the pieces meant to touch/kiss/hug each other, are both the salt and pepper built into just one piece instead of two, are the pieces over 6″ long or high or are they very thin, are they formed to sit or lay on a bench or shelf, are they meant to sit on another piece/tray, etc.?

There are unique name definitions for each one of these shaker forms and more listed below with shaker photos to help you learn to identify them.

Many shaker sets can be more than one FORM category – a longboy may also be a one-piece, a wire set may also be a hanger, a kisser set may also be a three-piece, etc. This is what makes arranging a shaker collection into reasonable displays so challenging.


Common Shaker Form Definitions:

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