An example of the bell or standing salt in the Royal Museum of Scotland dates from 1562-3 (see P. Glanville, Silver in Tudor and Early Stuart England, 1990, pp.90-91) and the form probably dates to the early part of the sixteenth century whence examples are known decorated with grotesques and arabesques. That the salt was an important part of display and wealth in England and the Low Countries is clear from the few surviving records and examples of this period. Glanville, op. cit., p.190 illustrates a Netherlandish group portrait of the 1620s in which the austerely garbed family gather around a table prominently displaying their bell salt. A bell salt of 1599, similar in shape and decoration to the present lot, and also from the William Randolph Hearst Collection, was sold Christie's London, 22 May 1991, lot 274.