Bengal Bluing Truncated Cone Saltshaker

Feb 19, 2024 | Museum Monday Treasures

Today’s Museum Monday treasure from the Museum of American Glass in WV is a saltshaker, known to collectors as Truncated Cone. As can be seen from the label, this was originally sold as a product container, with a label reading: “BENGAL BLUING / Manufactured by / S. S. NEWTON & CO. / Binghamton, N.Y. / PAT. OCT. 7TH 79 & SEPT. 14TH 80.” Our example still contains the original bluing.

There were two patents for this piece. It was covered by invention patent no. 220,410, for Improvement in Packages for Powdered Articles, filed August 1, 1879, approved October 7, 1879, and design patent D11,965, for Design for a Package for Powdered Articles, filed July 1, 1880, and approved September 14, 1880. The designer was Stephen S. Newton, of Binghamton, New York, with the term of patent being 7 years.

According to Wikipedia, “Bluing, laundry blue, dolly blue or washing blue is a household product used to improve the appearance of textiles, especially white fabrics. Used during laundering, it adds a trace of blue dye to the fabric. White fabrics acquire a slight color cast after use (usually grey or yellow). Since blue and yellow are complementary colors in the subtractive color model of color perception, adding a trace of blue color to the slightly off-white color of these fabrics makes them appear whiter.” Bluing does fade after a while, so adding it to laundry is required on a regular basis. But once the bottle was empty, it became an ideal saltshaker.

It is 2 ½” high and 1 ½” in diameter. Making this treasure even more special is the fact that it was acquired from the liquidation of Arthur Peterson’s collection, the pioneer researcher on glass salt and pepper shakers.

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