English potter Josiah Spode II made this tureen around 1820 as part of a large supper set that included four covered serving dishes and 17 plates. Such sets, sometimes nestled in a mahogany tray, were placed on a sideboard or table and used to serve supper.
Families sat down to supper—a light meal often consisting of leftovers from the noontime dinner—between 8 and 9 p.m. In the 19th century, supper became even more elaborate, and in wealthier households, it consisted of delicacies such as egg dishes and oatmeal. Diners would serve themselves from the various trays that surrounded the central tureen.The tureen also has two alternate drop-in sections. The pierced stand and its divided container were used for boiled eggs and salt and pepper. The bowl and cover kept selected supper contents hot.
American Spirit, Volume 141, No. 2, March/April 2007, Page 11
Photo by Mark Gulezian/QuickSilver