People have been searching for centuries for ways to keep moisture out of their seasonings, and a good introduction
to the many ideas can be found in Peterson’s Glass Salt Shakers in the sections on “Moisture Absorption” and “Moisture Exclusion.”
I am limiting this excursion to two examples: (1) a Nichols Damp Proof shaker which I found in a dusty case in 2006 in New Harmony, Indiana,
nestled among old razors and tiny ladies’ gloves. The bonus, carefully folded up inside, was the original instructions; and (2) patents
from J.W. Meaker of Detroit, Michigan, one of whose shakers appears in Lechner III, p. 228.
Peterson (p. 76) mentions “five airtight salt shakers patented by one man in 1909.” These were patent nos. 913,025 – 913,027 for salt shakers
and 913,028 and 913,029 for condiment holders issued to J.W. Meaker on February 23, 1909.
Patents 025, 026 (below) and 027 show a device in which the salt is placed in an inner receptacle closed at the bottom and is dispensed around the sides
of the base by agitating the shaker . Moisture is excluded when the shaker is set on a flat surface. 027 is specifically for
sheet metal construction. 028 uses a plunger device to push the salt out. Pat. No. 913,029 is the example shown in Lechner III, p. 228.
It is much simpler, being just a dome with a screw-on base containing a metal tube with holes in the top. The instructions are stamped into
the bottom: “Fill to mark – then screw point into salt . . . For pepper add whole rice.” The bottom also indicates “Pat Appd For.”
One wonders if the other four, although patented as well, were too complex ever to be produced.
I think Lechner’s text is in error regarding the Meaker as he says “the glass top contains five perforation holes for condiment dispensing.”
However Meaker’s patent clearly states numerous times that his device has an outer “imperforate casing” and permanently closed top. I also
believe Lechner is mistaken in calling it a dual condiment dispenser; the instructions seem to indicate salt or pepper but not both at the same time.
The Nichols Damp Proof is similar to the Meaker shown in Lechner in that it also is just a dome with a screw-on base
containing a metal tube with holes in the top (pictures below). The salt (or other powdered condiment) is intended to be placed into the outer casing and
dispensed through the center tube.