Sauce boats are exactly as their name implies; they are boat shaped objects, typically with one handle and a lip to pour out sauce onto a meal. They can come in porcelain, though here at O’Reilly’s Auction Rooms we most commonly have them in silver.
Originally, sauce boats were double-lipped and double-handled, to coincide with the nouvelle cuisine in 17th century France which featured heavy sauces like béchamel and velout, and this followed over to England as did much French influence. The original design, while ornate and pleasing aesthetically, proved difficult to manage and not ideal for pouring or easily managing hot liquid. The boat-shape came into fashion in the second decade of the 18th century during the reign of George II, and only one lip and handle remained, with the decoration restricted to the casted feet and handle rather than the body of the boat itself. A lot of sauce boats have a matching saucer for it to rest on to catch any excess sauce or gravy.
Sauce boats became more ornamented throughout the 18th century and almost became centrepieces for tables rather than just tableware.
Lot 502 is a George III Irish silver helmet shaped sauce boat by Matthew West, Dublin 1784. With beaded decoration around the rim of the boat and three hoofed feet, the design is consistent with other sauce boats of the time.
Lot 503 is another George III Irish silver helmet shaped sauce boat over hoofed feet. The scrolled handles and decorative feet of both sauce boats are a nod towards the previous rococo period and what remained of the ornate style.