The name 'sauceboat' is derived from the Old French ‘sausse’ for sauce, and ‘boat’ relates to the shape of the vessel.
Sauceboats may also be referred to as gravy boats or saucières.
In the late 17th century, dining habits changed reflecting the influence of the French. Soup tureens, sauceboats, epergnes and matching dinner services were introduced to the dining table.
Sauceboats were at first double-lipped and double-handed, but by the early 18th century, they had evolved into the more convenient form with a broad pouring lip and single scroll handle. Some sauceboats were crafted with accompanying ladles and/or matching under-dishes.
Initially, sauceboats were supported by a central foot, but by the mid-1700s silver sauceboats supported by three feet increased in popularity. It was around this time that English porcelain sauceboats were introduced to compliment dinner services, and early factories such as Worcester, Chelsea and Limehouse flourished.
Silver sauceboats became more elaborately decorated in the Regency period of the late 1700s. The handle became a major feature, as did the decorated rims and embellished feet.