Pickle Castor Artifact Highlight #19

You will not find a lot of pickle castors on dinner tables these days, but they were a very popular serving accessory during the Victorian Period. Both the jars and the frames came in a wide array of colors and designs. They often mirrored elements of other decorative arts and incorporated scrolls, shells, birds, vines, borders and floral elements as well as matching tongs and figural lid finials.

This beautiful castor with a clear pressed glass jar and ornate metal was made by Simpson, Hall, Miller & Co.

The company was formed in 1866 in Wallingford, Connecticut. It made plated goods and in 1899 became part of the International Silver Co. In the space of a few years the company bought a number of smaller silver companies becoming a large industrial corporation with shares worth more than 20 million dollars by 1900. Located in Meriden, Connecticut the International Silver Co. became a major producer of silver products in the United States. Although the popularity of pickle castors gradually faded, the 1900 Sears Roebuck catalog still offered a few designs for about $2.00.

1897 Sears, Roebuck Catalogue

The donor of the pickle castor is as interesting as the object she donated to Placer County Museums in 1961.

Edna Hollenbeck was born west of Chico in 1889. She arrived in Auburn in 1926 ready to start a new life after divorce and quickly became very involved in the community. She worked on the development of the 20th Agricultural District and was the director of the Auburn Recreational District for many years. Because of her efforts, James Field in the Auburn Recreation Park received electric lighting in 1939. She worked with the Rotary Club on providing the community with its first gymnasium. She was also involved in the California Chamber of Commerce and lobbied the states legislature for a four-lane Interstate 80.

According to her son, Bill Durham, Edna was “involved in so many clubs and activities, there were some days when she didn’t know how she was going to fit everything in.” As if all this work was not enough for Edna, she was also the owner of the historic Hotel Auburn and ran it until 1942.

Hotel Auburn c. 1920s. PCM Collection

In its long history as a town institution the hotel went through tough economic times, fires, and a number of ownership changes before it was refurbished and converted into offices known today as the Auburn Promenade.

Edna Hollenbeck died in 1969, 43 years after arriving in Auburn and supporting many worthy causes.