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A saucer is a type of small dishware. While in the Middle Ages a saucer was used for serving condiments and sauces, currently the term is used to denote a small plate or shallow bowl that supports a cup – usually one used to serve coffee or tea (see teacup). The center of the saucer often contains a depression sized to fit a mating cup; this depression is sometimes raised, and antique saucers may omit it altogether. The saucer is useful for protecting surfaces from possible damage due to the heat of a cup, and to catch overflow, splashes, and drips from the cup, thus protecting both table linen and the user sitting in a free-standing chair who holds both cup and saucer. The saucer also provides a convenient place for a damp spoon, as might be used to stir the drink in the cup in order to mix sweeteners or creamers into tea or coffee. Some animals, including cats, may also be fed from bowl-shaped saucers, and the same were likewise used to hold a quantity of hot beverage poured into them from the cup to cool.
Although often part of a place setting in a dinner set, teacups with unique styling are often sold with matching saucers, sometimes alone, or as part of a tea set, including a teapot and small dessert plates. A set of four is typical for a tea set.
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