Making Scents of Vinaigrettes
Vinaigrettes are small boxes containing sponges infused with vinegar kept beneath a perforated cover. Worn to cure fainting spells or to cure a headache, they could also provide relief from unpleasant smells by supplementing the vinegar with additional fragrances like orange, mint, lavender, rose, and spices. Popular from the seventeenth- through the nineteenth-centuries, they’re collectable today as lovely charm pendants.
In Victorian literature, vinaigrettes appear as implements of flirtation, usually with a gentleman suitor coming to aid a faint or headache-stricken lady, like this excerpt from Samuel Warrenâ€™s 1841 novel titled Ten Thousand a-Year:
“Then, after a momentâ€™s pause of irresolution, he gently drew her to the sofa, and laid her down. Supporting her head and applying her vinaigrette, till a deep-drawn sigh evidenced returning consciousness. Before she had opened her eyes, or could have become aware of the assistance he had rendered her, he had withdrawn to a respectful distance, and was gazing at her with deep anxiety. It was several minutes before her complete restorationâ€”which, however, the fresh air entering through the windows, which Gammon hastily threw open, added to the incessant use of her vinaigrette, greatly accelerated.”