Thursday, March 17, 2011

Butter Pats

"Butter Pats", also referred to as butter chips, are very small (usually about 3" diameter) plates used for individual servings of butter.  These butter pats were commonly used in Victorian formal dining, along with bone dishes, knife rests, or napkin holders.  Although they were used the most from 1880-1910, there is evidence that they existed before this time period and well after.  Because of their small size, they became a common item to collect.  Butter pats were often used in restaurants, hotels, ships, railway dining cars, etc.  Those with advertising seem to be more valuable.  Butter pats are made from various clays including low fired earthenware, stoneware, porcelain, silver, and glass.  Some have transfers which were fired on in the kiln, some are hand painted, and others are plain.

My mother-in-law and father-in-law.
 I did not collect my butter pats; they were given to me by my Mother- in-Law. What a wonderful gift!  According to my husband, my MIL began collecting butter pats along with her mother and her sister.  She did really well and amassed a beautiful collection, enough to fill four display cabinets (64 butter pats per cabinet) that she had displayed in her home.  (My husband thinks that one of the cabinets may have been inherited from her mother).  She loved to show me the butter pats and tell me where she got them from.  What I also liked about her displays were the little miniatures that she also displayed with the butter pats.  These were whimsical little figures that she liked to collect.

When my MIL and FIL moved into an extended care facility and "broke up" their house, luckily my MIL had four display cases of butter pats and gave one to each of her four daughters-in-law.  I was so happy!  In the packing up process, the butter pats and miniatures were mixed up and not sorted as she had done.  So, when I received my case, there were some missing butter pats and none of the miniatures were included.   However, I was able to replace the missing butter pats, thanks to ebay.  And, instead of being sad about the missing miniatures, our family decided to look for our own miniatures, which has been so much fun!

My butter pat display case and 64 butter pats.  The case is made out of cherry.

To get a better idea of the size of a butter is a butter pat with a pat of butter.

For an even better perspective...

Most of the butter pats have manufacturer's stamps on the back, but some do not.  Butter pat manufacturers from left to right;  Haviland Limoges,  England (unable to read the company), Japan, I think.  My son brought us the three little pigs from Stockholm, Sweden.

The lower picture shows the reverse of the butter pat on the left- Meakin, the butter pat on the right is Arabia- made in Finland.

The lower picture shows the back of the butter pat on the left.  The butter pat on the right is from Haviland.  The miniature Dala horses and boy were gifts from my son when he traveled to Stockholm, Sweden.

The butter pat on the left is Grindley, England, and on the right is Spode, England.  The "wooden" shoe is from Holland, Michigan.  The Dala pig is from the Swedish Museum in
St. Paul, Minnesota.

The lower picture is the back of the plate on the right- Delfe- Holland, and the butter pat on the left is not labeled.  The enameled bird is from Port Huron, Michigan.

The butter pat on the left is Grindley, England, and on the right is Porsgrund, Norway.  The Dala Rooster is from the Swedish Museum in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The butter pats from left to right:  Furnivals Quail- England, no label, Limoges- France.  The miniatures are match strikes.  Apparently they came with the purchase of matches, back in the day.  The bottoms are rough to light a match.  Our match strikes (there is another name for them, but I can't remember it) are all fairy tale figures.  These are Jack and Jill who fell down the hill.

The butter pat on the left is Wedgewood- England, and the one on the right is Mason's Brocade, England.  The match strike is the Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe.

The butter pat on the left is Mellor Taylor, England, and on the right is Grindley, England.  The beautiful glass bird belonged to my MIL, I thought it looked perfect alongside her butter pats.

The butter pat on the left was made by Palissy Pottery, Staffordshire, England.  The one on the right is unlabeled.  The little pewter figure on the left looked just like my daughter when she was little and it belongs to her.  The two other miniatures are Wee Forest Folk representing my son and daughter.

The butter pats from left to right:  Wedgewood- England,  John Maddock and Sons- England,  Denmark.  The match strikes from left to right:  Little Bo Peep, Wee Willie Winkie.

Both of these butter pats are unlabeled.  The loon is from Louisville, Kentucky.

The butter pat below is the back of the center butter pat.  The other two are unlabeled.

These miniatures was a souvenir from our trip to France, they are from Avignon.

The butter pat on the left is from Denmark, and on the right is Willow- Wood and Sons, England.

The butter pat in the center is from Powell- Bishop, England, and the one on the right is from Canton, China.  The thimble belonged to my MIL.

The butter pat on the left is Minton, England, and the one on the right is J & C Louise, Bavaria.  
The little train was a fun find in an antique shop in Baltimore, Maryland.  The plate on the left is Haviland, Limoge, France and the butter pat on the right is Mason's Vista, England.

We were thrilled to find these four angels in a Christmas decoration box that belonged to my MIL and FIL.

Another peek at a butter pat being put to good use.

I have no idea of the value of these butter pats.  The price is extremely variable according to condition, and availability.  There are quite a few butter pat collectors, so much so that there is a "Butter Pat Patter Association!"  I am sure that my mother-in-law would have loved to have been a member!
What a special gift that will always remind me of my wonderful mother-in-law.
Thanks  Mom!


  1. What a beautiful collection! I love the function and that they have sentimental meaning too! ;) I'll be keeping my eyes open for tiny plates...I'd love to set the table with a butter pats.


  2. What an interesting collection- thank you for sharing!

  3. I have collected butter pats for many years and have never found a good way to display them....until I saw your cabinet! I love it and will attempt to talk my gifted husband into making me one. Thank you!

  4. Very nice. I have a few butterpats--I've always loved them. Their diminutive size makes them easy to display/store and they are so delightful. Thanks for sharing yours.

  5. Loved seeing your MIL's and your collection. I've been collecting since 1974 and have thousands, including small plates that people often give me, thinking they are pats. Wonder if I ever met your in-laws in our butter pat past? Laurene in CT

    1. Members of a Butter Pat Group met in MA a couple of years. I think I may have met your in-laws because people showed photos of how they displayed their collections. I'll have to go through my old photos. Laurene in CT

  6. I love these little plate-or butter pats, I have never seen them before.