Pass the Salt (and Pep­per)

Her shaker col­lec­tion brings new mean­ing to “re­gional sea­son­ings.”


Molly Cas­sidy comes from a long line of what she refers to as “col­lec­tors, junkers and thrifters,” in­her­it­ing the col­lect­ing gene from her par­ents and grand­par­ents.

Among other things, the North Carolina pub­lic health nurse gath­ers sea glass and vin­tage bar­ware, but an as­sort­ment of salt and pep­per shak­ers is Molly’s largest col­lec­tion by far. It be­gan when she left for col­lege in Ari­zona, with a gift from her dad—a vin­tage set adorned with some of the ma­jor land­marks of her new home state. The fol­low­ing sum­mer, she found two more sets at a yard sale. One was from Texas, the other from Ne­vada.

“At that point,” Molly says, “I had three sets. So I thought, it’s of­fi­cial. This is a col­lec­tion.”

There’s one ma­jor rule—each pair must be in­scribed with the name of a spe­cific place—so while an­tique shops teem with salt and pep­per shak­ers, the ones that fit Molly’s cri­te­ria are a lit­tle harder to come by. But, she says, “a big part of col­lect­ing is the hunt.”

The most un­usual sets are among her fa­vorites, in­clud­ing one with a cu­ri­ous char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Florida: a tiny toaster with two re­mov­able slices of toast, one hold­ing salt and the other pep­per.

“For some rea­son, Florida is be­ing rep­re­sented with toast and toast­ers,” she says. “It makes no sense.”

Now with about 75 sets, Molly’s col­lec­tion has a few du­pli­cate states but no du­pli­cate styles. Not ev­ery state is ac­counted for yet, but she’s work­ing on it.

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