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Thanksgiving Gatherings Bring Antiques to the Table

Antiques and Thanksgiving just naturally go together.

After all, fall is the time for enjoying family, friends, your home and hearth. So, what better time to pull out your treasures and feature them on the table.

From platters to china patterns, to serving dishes and table linens, antiques enhance the table setting immeasurably and add to the tastiness of a turkey dinner.

Antique butter dishes are one of the simple pleasures that dress up the table in an easy way.

These utilitarian dishes are also a stand-alone collectible that antique enthusiasts have long appreciated.

But these pretty covered serving dishes are not just useful, they’re attractive and fun. An antique or vintage butter dish adds a touch of class to the dining table too. Everyone should have a few.

I typically use my Fiestaware yellow single stick butter dish on the kitchen table daily, but in the dining room, I turn to a round antique crystal version that goes with all china patterns, even formal patterns.

Butter dishes became common on the table during the Victorian age when dining and serving dishes were formal in most households. Even average families had a butter dish for the table.

Antique butter dishes, unlike today’s version, are round and meant for a mound of butter. Today’s versions are long and fit the standard sticks of margarine or butter.

When butter dishes were becoming popular of course, butter was made by farmers and was a real treat. It wasn’t readily available in city homes until the 20th century.

Butter dishes were bigger in many cases to have room for irregular slabs or mounds of butter. Lids were important too, to keep it fresh and to keep flies or fingers off it. In the world of antique serving dishes there are also cheese dishes that look a lot like butter dishes but are bigger.

Pattern glass butter dishes were perhaps the most common version in the 19th century. The one shown in the column is a classic example.

Pattern glass was the first mass-produced fancy tableware in America, according to Schroeder’s Antiques Price Guide information. Early examples (pre-Civil War) are exceptionally clear and resonant and had high lead content and it’s also referred to as Flint Glass.

Thousands of examples exist since it was produced in great volume during the Victorian age and in many, many patterns. Visit patternglass.com to learn lots about this extensive field of collecting.

Butter dishes have several companion pieces that collectors often become interested in.

One of these is butter pats. These can often be found at yard and estate sales or antique shops and are mistaken for children’s china. But these tiny little plates were designed to hold butter pats at the table for individual diners.

Sometimes, fancy dinners would have the butter pats stamped with a design or molded into little shapes, like flowers or bunnies. These butter stamps and molds are also collectible.

So, pull out your antique butter dishes, serving pieces, heirloom china, glassware and linens and enjoy dining with your friends and family as we start the festive season. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

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