These objects are part of a larger dinner service that was likely made in honor of John Carter Brown's marriage to Sophia Augusta Brown in 1859. Part of this dinner service, comprising a soup tureen and cover, a pair of sauce tureens and covers, and four matching salt cellars, sold Christie's, New York, 26 January 1995, lot 370.
John Carter Brown was the son of Nicholas (1769-1841) and Ann Carter Brown (d. 1798). Nicholas Brown made a donation to the College of Rhode Island in 1804 for which the college changed its name to Brown University.
John Carter Brown's influence on the University is best understood through his love of books. George Parker Winship, in his The John Carter Brown Library, 1914, p. 12, records "John Carter Brown was one of a small group of American gentlemen of means who found in the London and Continental bookshops a reason for European holiday."
Brown collected extensively, focusing on books produced in the Western hemisphere before 1801. By the time of his death, he had amassed 7,500 volumes. The collection continued to grow under the care of his widow, Sophia Augusta Brown, and his sons and was donated along with a building fund and a $500,000 endowment to the University as the John Carter Brown Library in 1904.
For more information see:
Martha Mitchell, Encyclopedia Brunoniana, 1993
John Russell Bartlett, The History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations: Biographical, Volume 6, 1920, pp. 188-191
George Parker Winship, The John Carter Brown Library, 1914