Trompe l'oeil forms of this type were very popular additions to the 18th century dining table. Uses were varied and their purpose was primarily to amuse as well as to be practical. In his article 'Das Northumberland-service aus Meissener Porzellan', Keramos, 70/75, pp. 9-92 the author discusses the celebrated zoological and ornithological service supplied by the Meissen factory to the Duke of Northumberland. The service included two related forms to the present boxes, the drawings of the boxes survive at Alnwick Castle (pl. 54) with the inscription 'vier Stück Wachtein zu Salzfässer'. Two of these variants survive today, although their covers have been lost. The form was later adapted for use as a salt, with the addition of a chick as the finial. Carl Albiker, in Die Meissner Porzellantiere (Berlin, 1959), pl. 145 dates the models to circa 1740-48, described in Kändler's Taxa as 'two quail after life, gazing at each other and opening on top, for putting in butter and things of that sort. 1 Thaler, 8 g.'.