Nobody we have asked in the antiques business can answer the origins of this interesting piece. What is clear though, is that you can use it for a variety of tasks. You can let your cigar lay resting and having a flame keeping it lit, or warm a pair of pliers for curling your moustache, or to sterilize tools for pulling out splinters. The only limitation here is set by your imagination. Fill the space underneath the wick with lighter fluid and light up.
A beautiful ornate tin ashtray for pipes. The cork in the middle of the ashtray is to knock out the smoked tobacco of your pipe, and the stands on the sides is to let your pipe rest between uses. A beautiful interior detail, whether you smoke pipes or not.