I was astonished to read a report in the Daily Mail about a new book describing England's Crown Jewels. The article includes this photograph:
Believe it or not, that's a salt cellar! It's known as the Salt of State, or the Exeter Salt after the city which presented it to King Charles II. After seeing the picture, I looked around the Internet for more information, and found this at the BBC:
The Salt, which is in the shape of a turreted castle and encrusted with 73 jewels, was made by Johann Hass of Hamburg in 1630.
It cost £700 at the time - the equivalent of about £750,000 [about US $1.18 million] today.
The city gave the ornate object to the new king to win back favour after the Civil War, in which it had sided with the Parliamentarians.
It was used for Coronation banquets in Westminster Hall until the reign of George IV, and is now on permanent display in the Tower of London's Jewel House.
There's more at the link.
The thought of making something that ornate and costly, just to hold salt, boggles my mind!