Salt was a precious commodity in England during the sixteenth century, and its value was reflected by the elaborate gilt-silver containers that were made to hold it on the dining table. The so-called standing salt was placed prominently to the right of the host, indicating his or her social status.
Inscription: Inscribed under base: THOMAS*VARAM*GIFT*TO*THE*CITTIE*FOR*EVER
Marking:  leopard's head crowned (London assay office mark);  G (London date letter for 1584–85);  lion passant (English quality mark for sterling);  probably I piercing G (indistinct maker's mark).
Location of marks: (a) – stamped on base of 2 lion's masks; (b) traces of  and  at lower edge, before reinforcing rim was added; (c) faint traces of marks near bottom ring; (d) – stamped in bottom of well; (e) , ,  (and perhaps ) stamped on rim
Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex and Earl of Inverness (until d. 1843; his sale, Christie & Manson, London, June 22–23, 26–27, 1843, no. 620); J. Pierpont Morgan (until 1947; sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, November 1, 1947, no. 461; sold for $4,000 to E. & A. Silberman Galleries, Inc.); [ E. & A. Silberman Galleries, Inc. , from 1947 ] ; Chester D. Tripp (until 1952; to MMA)
Artist: James Cox (British, ca. 1723–1800)Date: 1766Medium: Case: gold with diamonds and paste jewels set in silver, pearls; Dial: while enamel; Movement: partly gilded brass and steel, wheel balance and cock of silver set with paste jewelsAccession: 1982.60.137On view in:Gallery 540