Hello, Everyone. My name is Melanie Schertz, and this is my first post on Austen Authors. I am coming up on my 3rd anniversary for posting my first story, on AHA, so you can see, I am still a newbie in the field. It also marks my 10th “birthday” of being an Austen Addict. Thanks go out to all the amazing authors here who have been willing to help me learn and grow in my work. Finding people who are willing to help one another is truly a blessing.
I have been working on my newest book, which will hopefully be on Amazon by the end of the week. It is titled On the Road to Ramsgate. My editor said that it was one of her favorites, so I hope it will be one that everyone likes.
For those of you who have read my stories, you are aware that I write in the time period of the late 1700’s to early 1800’s. I have thought about writing a modern story, but, for some reason, I just cannot manage such a story. But perhaps there is a reason.
I grew up in a small farming community in central Illinois. My grandparents and parents were wonderful and a huge part of my life, teaching me so many of my values and beliefs.
One of the things I learned about from my grandparents were antiques. My brothers and I grew up with antiques all around us, and even played with some of them. I remember, as a child, playing with the butter churn, the old crank phone, the coffee grinder and more.
We had antique dishes, butter molds, hat pins, old books (including primers, a first edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and more), invalid feeders (the photo on the front on Netherfield Park Quarantined is some of my mother’s collection of invalid feeders), and we even have the old purse and clay pipe my great, great grandmother used to smoke. In a way, I grew up playing in another century, so that might be a reason for me to write in that era.
Perhaps now that you know something of my background, you will permit to share a bit of information, of which many may not think when considering a formal dinner at Pemberley or the Darcy townhouse in London.
One of the items I collected with my grandmother were salt dips. Salt dips were made from any number of things, from glass, porcelain, metal, and even wood. Salt did not have an anti-caking agent in it during that time, so it could not pour from a shaker. Rather than having a salt shaker, there was a “master dip”. The “master dip” remained still and was used to restock the smaller salt dips. Some call the dishes salt cellars. Each place setting had a salt dip, and, beginning in the 1600’s, there was usually a very tiny spoon of metal or glass, which was used to distribute the salt on the plate/food. The person could either use the spoon to spread the salt, or food items could be dipped into the salt in the dish.
As most people have never heard of them, the salt dips and master salt dips are usually sold as other items, small candy dishes or unknown dishes. The use of salt dips, or salt cellars, dates back to classical Rome, and were used until free flowing salt, which contain anticaking ingredients, became available.
I have over 200 dips, in many shapes and sizes. I have some shaped as flowers, elegantly painted scenes, cut glass, shaped as miniature brandy snifters, and even some shaped as logs hollowed out, as well as animals. Some are elegant, and some are extremely… unique. But they are a piece of history, which keeps me in touch with the past, along with the many conversations I shared with my Grandma. So, now when you imagine the formal table setting, with the elegant dishes, you can envision the cut glass or elegantly painted ceramic salt dishes on the table.