Q: Several years ago, I received a six-piece set of little antique crystal bowls and matching tiny shovels. The set probably dates from the late 19th or early 20th century. Each little bowl is about 2 inches tall and 4 inches in diameter. What were the bowls and shovels used for? And what is the set worth?
A: Your little bowls were used to hold salt. They’re called “open salts,” “standing salts” or “salt cellars.” An open salt with a shovel-like spoon and a little pepper shaker were set next to each place-setting at the dining table. Instead of shaking salt, diners used the shovel to sprinkle salt on their food. Sets like yours don’t sell for high prices today. We have seen six-piece sets sell online for $25 to $50.