A-Z of Ceramics - V is for Veilleuse
This unusual device derives its name from the French for a night vigil. It was used to keep a drink or portion of semi-liquid food warm at night-time, initially only at the bedside of infants or invalids, but from about 1800 for more general use. In the days before electric timers, it was the nearest thing to a combined 'teasmade' and nightlight.
It consists of a hollow pedestal with pierced vents surmounted by either a covered food bowl or a small teapot. The heat source is oil burned by means of a floating wick, located in a tiny bowl in the bottom of the pedestal. Veilleuses were made in tin-glazed earthenware, creamware, stoneware, porcelain and bone china. They were chiefly made between 1750 and about 1860.