Pickle Power

Nov 26, 2016
central NC

Victorian Pickle Castor (Wikimedia)
Have you ever seen a Victorian-era pickle castor? It’s a jar, about six inches tall, often in jewel-toned pressed glass and fitted in an embellished holder. It comes with a matching lid and decorated tongs. Pretty fancy stuff for pickles.

Well our Victorian friends liked to enhance their dining tables with these containers. By 1860, the castors had become extremely ornamental and depicted everything from flowers to miniature gargoyles. Pickle castors conveyed social status and indicated one’s capacity to have servants. The household kitchen staff were responsible for preparing and preserving the jar’s pickles and displaying them appropriately in the pickle castor.

By 1890, the upper class had made pickle castors a popular item. However a decade later, they were out of fashion. The decorative piece became obsolete until collectors took a renewed interest in Victorian glass art in the mid-1980s. The pickle castor revival peaked with the rarest of jars selling for as much as $1,500. Today, you can likely acquire a standard pickle castor for less than a $100. Of course, a glass jar of pickles from the supermarket costs a lot less and still gets the job done.
Nov 27, 2020
This is fascinating!!!!!! It makes sense to have them in a castor, when they were otherwise stored (a) in a barrel or crockery, and (b) typically eaten whole (not sliced like McDonald's). Thanks for sharing this unique post!!!!