Lately I've been browsing various dealer and auction houses for cassolettes. I am not knowledgeable enough to know what I want just yet. Originally cassolettes (small containers) were used on the dining table, from what I've read, except I always remember seeing them on the mantle as a child. They were intended, like printaniers, as perfumers with perforated lids to suppress the overpowering food odors. One 1898 resource said to fill them with grain of musk (the real deal, no white musk here, yikes!), ambergris, seeds of a vanilla pod, otto of roses (the rose oil, as opposed to rose absolute), orris root powder and use the gum acacia or gum tragacanth to bind them into a paste. Hmm, organic Febreze, folks!
I've seen lidded varieties where the lid turns over to hold candlesticks. I've seen mantle varieties in a set with a mantle clock. I've seen stand alone open urn styles. I really liked the last one that was in the Chessy Rayner sale at One King's Lane from a couple weeks ago. You snooze, you lose! Thoughts?
Images from ebay, Christie's, Andrew Hopkins, Royale Galleries, One Kings Lane - Chessy Rayner, ref The Practical Housekeeper and Cyclopedia of Domestic Economy