stupid '50s china question

Fori is not pleasedAugust 13, 2010

I've got my grandmother's china set which dates to the 1950s. It's a traditional pattern by Theo Haviland. It has all the normal pieces teapot and no butter dish. The replacement services don't list these items and I think maybe they just weren't made. Is that possible? I was raised by wolves so maybe I'm wrong thinking there should be a butter dish. It's a formal set so I can see not sharing butter at dinner. Civilized.

But no teapot? Were postwar Americans such savages that they didn't have tea?

(In addition to checking replacement services, I've been following the pattern on eBay for a few years and except for a cream soup bowl, haven't seen anything I didn't have. Although now I have more, and yes I DO need more than one gravy boat!)

So, is it normal for a set to be lacking these pieces entirely? (And is the thing I use for a butter dish from my older set most likely for something else?)


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In my experience a butter dish is never found in formal china, nor a tea pot. Those items are usually in silver.
You will find those items in things like Johnson brothers...and mason's ironstone...but I've not seen such items in fine china.
Fine china, like Haviland France of the early 20th century often had a round butter dish, but not often have I seen a tea pot of a coffee pot.
As for the butter dish from your other a picture...let's see what you have.
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 7:04PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks, Linda...I had a feeling you might know! :)

Here's my celery dish (?), with a stick of butter for reference.

The next question of course is how might one serve butter without a designated dish? Do you plop a piece on each bread plate?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 7:36PM
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Pickles...or celery.
You get a silver butter dish. Alternatly you can cut butter into pats and put them on a plate and serve with a butter pick....sounds like a lot of trouble to me.
I have assorted other dished I use, a small round milk glass dish with a lacy edge, or a round ruby glass dish for my mason's pink vista.
But remember butter in sticks is a fairly recent thing. in the early 50's and before butter was one whole pound and you cut a slab off and plopped it on a plate. And before that when people churned their was in a lump from a butter mold.
Love the pickle works for butter...I sometimes use antique pressed glass pickle dishes for butter.
Is that a Noritake pattern?
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 8:10PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks Linda--I think it's Empress, based on a post a while back where I wanted to know so I could get more--someone had almost the same stuff, differing just by amount of gold trim and a decent stamp. Interesting but I guess we'll never know.

I suppose I could get fancy and pipe butter flowers into little berry bowls or something. (yeah, right! haha!)

Here is a link that might be useful: old

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 8:34PM
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I remember making little flower-shaped molded butter pats to put into my grandmother's silver butter dish, which had a reservoir that you filled with ice and water to keep the butter from melting.

Formal tea came from the silver pot, family tea came out of the heavy ceramic pot. Chocolate came out of the porcelain chocolate pot, which also served coffee in a pinch.

But no porcelain tea pots or butter dishes in her collection.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 11:46AM
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That's a lovely pickle/relish/celery dish. I don't know how butter was served in the 50's (also raised by wolves, LOL) but I suspect LindaC is correct about silver being used for formal dinners. I've read that in the Victorian era (& don't know how long the custom survived - it may depend on one's definition of 'formal'), bread & butter plates weren't used at formal affairs because bread was not served as part of a formal dinner &, logically, butter would not have been on the table - no napkin rings allowed either. Butter, bread, & napkin rings - silver included - were for family dining & perhaps ladies' luncheons.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 12:46PM
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I forgot to ask - do you have individual bread plates with your service? If you do, that would indicate (at least to me) that a matching master butter dish exists.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 1:07PM
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Fori is not pleased

Interesting. I do have bread plates. Of course one must remember I'm only assuming that's what they are. Dinner, bread, and salad. According to the popular replacement service, there is also a "relish dish" but I've never seen it and they don't actually have it.

It's probably not a formal set. It's more like a nice Sunday dinner and the occasional holiday set for family dining. Made in America for middle class Americans. And wolves. :)

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 1:45PM
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My Mason's Vista has what they call buffet plates, 10 1/2 inches....dinner plated 10 inches, Luncheon plates 9 inches...what they call dessert plates...too lazy to go measure, and salad plates, smaller than the dessert plates AND bread and butters, the same size as saucers but without the indent for the cup.
Most sets don't have bread and butters....they are very small. People now days tend to use a side salad plate as a bread and butter....all in one.
Theodore Haviland was lots of our Grandmother's "good" dishes....used for holidays and special occasions.
These past 25 years or so....all, it seemsWedgewood, Royal doulton, Mason's, Franciscan name a few...

Linda C

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 3:08PM
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I remember my mother talking about how she and her sisters made butter balls for the parsonage Sunday dinner.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 5:48PM
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lindac make butter balls with butter paddles...wooden paddles with ridges in them...I think I have a couple somewhere.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 6:57PM
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To answer one of your other questions:

Question: "Were postwar Americans such savages that they didn't have tea?"

Answer: YES- but it was not a result of WWII, in fact it goes back about another 150yrs. Just prior to commencing hostilities in our revolution there was a protest action known as the "Boston Tea Party", Dec.16,1773 in which a number of colonists disguised themselves as Native Americans and boarded an English ship in Boston harbor that was loaded with tea and they tossed the tea overboard to protest the outrageous tax on tea imposed by the King of England. After that it was considered a mild form of personal protest to refrain from consuming tea, which explains why coffee is considered the primary hot drink in USA.

In polite society, even when coffee or tea is served, it is generally not served with the meal, but rather as a separate course after desert, and often served from a large silver urn buffet style to allow the wait staff time to clear the table.

An alternative was for the ladies to retire to another room and have tea, while the gentlemen retired to another room for brandy & cigars.

I don't recall ever seeing a butter dish with a formal or semi formal set of dishes, not meaning to say they weren't made, but from my experience for formal dining they used small butter molds to form individual serving pieces into decorative flowers, perhaps individual pats with the family crest or the initial of the host and the butter pats were then either placed on the individual bread plates, placed on a small communal butter plate with the butter fork.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 9:48AM
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Fori is not pleased

Hmm. I had never heard about this "Boston Tea Party". I will have to Google it.

Alright...but why the teacups? Coffee with dessert I guess, which explains the pot. Tea's not a dinner drink, and if I want to have a tea I can use my teacups but have to use the silver teapot. It needn't match (although more recently made sets do have teapots--being a modern girl, that may be what confused me).

I should clarify, though--these aren't the dishes a very wealthy family would have and we aren't talking anything more formal than Thanksgiving dinner. I was just wondering how butter and tea were served in typical households (and I do think y'all have addressed that pretty well!). It's not formal super fancy. It belonged to a farming family. Not dirt farmers, but middle class. No staff. No butlers, no maids. Not polite society (but you'd get a stern look if you told my grandmother that!). Just normal middle class types who don't have wait staff. Maybe even they ARE the wait staff for someone else.

I will have to find some proper silver butter dishes, but I won't be doing sculpted butter pats! After all, my good silverware is from an even more uncivilized era, the 1960s, and has no butter pick, just a master butter knife. That and I'm lazy, of course.

Thanks for all the help, everyone. We need a forum on "How to use old stuff properly". :D

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 12:43PM
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Well...I have to express a bit of a different opinion here. I remember Pearl Harbor....and I also remember when the slogan "Remember Pearl Harbor" was a popular reminder of patriotism....and my grand parents drank as much tea after as before. I don't remember tea being hard to get during the war...but coffee definitely was in short supply.
I went to "tea dances" as a young teen, we had regular afternoon teas when I was in college. I don't remember any patriotic efforts to avoid teas. Yes Wagner's operas were looked at askance and saurkraut was called "liberty cabbage".
Early in the 17th century, both Coffee and Tea came to Europe. Cocoa had arrived a little bit earlier. For some reason, coffee was served in coffee houses which also served as political arenas and gathering places for the exchange of ideas. Tea was apparently served and made at home.
We can attribute the fact that we are a nation of coffee drinkers to the Boston Tea party and the protest over England's taxation of certain goods to the colonies.
For some reason tea has often been served with some amount of ceremony and we see more individual tea sets than tea pots which are part of a dinner set.

Below is linked a page or lots of butter dishes, both formal and informal.( and a few gravy boats too!)There were butter dishes matching formal china more often than tea pots.
Linda C

Here is a link that might be useful: Butter dishes

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 1:51PM
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Fori is not pleased

O my. I clearly need something round with a dome for my butter!

As far as tea goes, I'll happily offer a guest a teabag and some hot water, but it's not going into a pot--everyone seems to drink a different tea these days. Or should I serve hot water in the (silver) teapot alongside a selection of bags??

I'm going to banished to the entertaining forum, aren't I?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 2:28PM
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I have some of my grandmother's dishes which date back about 100 or so years and they include tiny plates which I think were for butter pats. When I say tiny, I mean about 2 inch diameter. Like lindac I'm too lazy to go measure since they're packed away upstairs for my daughters, but that's my best guess!

By the way, the chances my daughters will ever use them are slim to none. One is in a tiny apartment in CA and the other is prone to using paper when she has company. What a shame to have all that beauty going to waste.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 6:35PM
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don't discount a grand daughter using them. They are great for serving a chocolate truffle.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 6:48PM
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Fori is not pleased

Norar, why aren't YOU using them? :) But Linda's right. Granddaughters and grandsons will use them if you give them a chance. Or maybe even your daughters.

I don't think I'd be willing to give everyone a butter plate. Sanitary, but too much cleanup. Maybe one for my in-law who thinks it's OK to roll his ear of corn on the communal butter. (Well, he knows it's not OK now, but after that episode I'm sure he'd have a good laugh at being given his own butter to maul.)

Of course I didn't think I'd ever have a use for the tiny berry bowls but when your ice cream maker doesn't make enough for everyone, suddenly tiny bowls are exactly what you need!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 7:38PM
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My silver butter dome has a slot type rack at the back of it for it's very own silver butter pick!
I also own a silver butter dish for a 1/4 # stick of butter!
Linda those pictures are gorgeous!!
Fori, thanks so much for this thread...I have learned a number of history lessons here thanks to all of you!!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 5:13PM
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jaybird....the slot is for a butter knife...AKA a "master butter" knife. what you would put in that domed dish was a mold of butter like was made with the round wooden molds pictured below.

Here is a link that might be useful: butter molds.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 5:46PM
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