Vintage & Antique Butter Pat Guide

Hi there! Lately I’ve been picking up butter pats at a higher than normal rate, so today I’m going to showcase some of them and share their history with you.

These darling collectibles, usually not much larger than 3″ in diameter, make terrific “starter” collections because of their size and the availability of so many examples at a relatively low cost.

One can collect by maker, material, decoration, country of origin, or by simply purchasing those you feel drawn to.

Vintage & Antique Butter Pat Guide

The butter pat period extended from about 1850 to 1920, covering much of the Victorian era into the Edwardian and beyond. You’re probably familiar with the notion that Victorians lived rather excessively in the china/glassware/flatware department. They owned a dish and piece of flatware for every food and a glass for every beverage.

At the extreme, this might mean nearly a dozen forks to the left of the plate and an equal number of knives on the right, along with several pieces of stemware for the various drinks served with dinner, and spoons laid out at the top. Can you imagine?!! Think Downton Abbey on steroids.

With a dinner service, one would expect a matching set of butter pats (or “butter chips” or simply “butters”), and each guest would find a pat positioned on the upper left of each place setting. One or two pats of butter would be placed on it, sometimes delicately molded flowers or another attractive shape.

All of the examples I’m going to share today are basically round, but you can find them in a variety of shapes: oval, square, fan or shell-shaped, and more. The pats in this post range in value from $2-8.00, all of which I bought for 25-50Β’.

Antique & Vintage European Butter Pats

antique haviland & Co. floral butter pat

I just recently found a pair of these delicate porcelain butter pats with transfer flowers and embossed design along the edges. In 1842, Haviland & Co., an American company, began exporting fine china from Limoges, France to the States.

Wood, Bicknaill & Potter (see the middle of the mark) would have been the merchants who imported the china.

Haviland stopped using this mark in the late 1800’s. Still in business today, the company designed the china pattern used by the Lincoln White House.

Royal Copenhagen blue floral butter pat

The Royal Copenhagen pottery (Denmark) designed this little miniature work of art. Notice the delicate, basket weave pattern around the perimeter. The line under the “O” in Copenhagen indicates that it dates to 1963 and “kt” are the painters initials. It is worth about $6-8.

vintage johnson brothers Pareek butter pat

Many of us recognize the name Johnson Bros. from the beautiful transferware and ironstone that they produced in copious amounts beginning in 1883.

Located in Staffordshire, England, a region famous for its many potteries, they produced all kinds of pottery, including this pattern called “Pareek,” until 2005 when production moved to China. They used the mark seen here beginning in 1913.

Antique Schwarzburg Germany Butter PatThis dainty antique example bears the mark, “Schwarzburg,” which refers to a town in Germany and dates to between 1904 and 1924.

antique butter pat from unknown maker marked 92At first glance, this pat might be mistaken for a tea or espresso cup saucer, however the inner gold circle is merely a decoration. It doesn’t mark a shallow indent to support a cup. In fact, the raised design of a central flower makes it impossible for a cup to sit securely. I placed this example in the “European” category because the number on the back is the correct color and texture for an Austrian or Bavarian piece.

Antique & Vintage Japanese Butter Pats

Set of three floral Nippon butter patsThis beautifully hand-painted set of pats originated in Japan (the transliteration of the word “Nippon”). This mark was used from 1911-1921. The tiny side handles give them the appearance of a “chop plate.”

vintage Floral Japan butter patAlso hand-painted, this Japanese example dates to significantly later, likely the 1950’s or 60’s. It has a pretty shape.

Japanese floral butter patAnother pretty floral example from the same time period.

Vintage American Butter Pat

vintage jackson china ironstone butter patThis pat, made by the Jackson China company in Falls Creek (PA), falls into the “restaurantware” category, or what I would call “late period American ironstone.”

Jackson China stayed in business from 1915 to 1985, but this mark was only in use until about 1945. I believe the quaint pattern is identified by the company as #134.

A funny story about butter

Unmarked Vintage Butter Pats

Unmarked restaurantware butter patsThis set of eight restaurantware pats have no mark but they would make a lovely addition to a fall table, if one were inclined to get all fancied up.

unmarked vintage butter patsAdditional unmarked versions.

unmarked vintage butter pats
And the final pair, a calico print on the left and a lovely foxglove(?) on the right, also both unmarked, but both very pretty.

Most pottery companies stopped manufacturing butter pats in the 1950’s, with the exception of those used by airlines, railroads, state dinners, or exclusive restaurants.

Expect travel-related butter pats, those containing advertising, and art pottery pieces to cost more, along with full sets of twelve in pristine condition.

Randi at Dukes & Dutchesses teaches how to make monogrammed butter pats for your special occasions here, if you are so inclined.

I think I’d have to have a lot of free time on my hands to make the effort to mold and shape my butter, even for a special occasion, LOL. In my house, sticks of butter are cut in half and pushed into little crocks with a butter knife and stored in a dark cupboard. Just sayin’.

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Other Collecting Posts You Might Be Interested In:

For more info about butter pats,
check out these articles & collections:
Antique Trader
Collector’s Corner: Butter Pat Plates
12th & White
Bittersweet Bric a Brac

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50 Comments

  1. I love butter pats and they do sell well for me! I have never seen the restaurant ware butter pats, I would have thought they would be extraneous by that era. My favorites, by far, are the Japan handled ones with the gold edge. Adorable to the maximum.

    1. That’s great to hear that they sell well for you, Laura! At this point, I’ve been hanging onto them for this post, but I may bring a few to my antique booth and see how they do πŸ™‚ I’m so glad you learns something new from the post–

    2. I just sold a sterling restaurant ware butter pat that had been my grandmothers. I guess I didn’t know what it worth. Started at auction and a buyer made an offer of $5 and I accepted! Oops!

      1. Live and learn like they say. If you made a bit off of it Rebecca, then it’s all good–and your buyer will enjoy it and/or sell it and make a bit of profit too. Best of luck with your reselling biz!

  2. Great article! I never knew about butter pats but will have to take a look at my broken china collection. I’m sure I have some of these tiny plates that I was probably saving to cut out the back stamp. Maybe I should take them out of the chopping line up!

    1. So glad you enjoyed the post, Tanya. I hope you find some of these tiny treasures when you go searching through your stash πŸ™‚ And yes, take them of the “chopping line up!”

  3. I have a slew of these little things, and I don’t know why! Like other orphan dishes, I suppose they just appealed to me. That’s how most collections go, I suppose. You have quite the collection too!

    1. Ha ha! That’s hysterical, Rita πŸ™‚ You have them because you love them, right? Yes, that’s definitely how collections go…

  4. I have never heard of butter pats. I have purchased many odd pieces of china/glassware, but had never heard of these. I live in southwest Virginia and at antique stores or even at auctions have never seen one. I found this article most interesting and will keep my eyes open.

    1. I didn’t either, except that “butter pats” is a lot in the ceramics and porcelain class in the antiques department at my county fair. I had to do a websearch to figure out what they were talking about. I bet a lot of these pats are getting misidentified as children’s china.

  5. Thanks for the article on the Butter Pats…I too collect those…oh my we are kindred spirits. I have mine stacked under a cloche. They sure are fun to search for. Thanks Diana

    1. A perfect way to display them, Terry! I’ve never found any plain white ironstone ones, so that’s what I’m hoping to find πŸ™‚

  6. Very .interesting, I did not know anything about them. You have some pretty ones! I am going to keep my eyes out for them.

  7. I also have quite a collection of butter pats! Some I use and some I sell….. very appealing designs and a small price to pay for charm!

  8. What a great post; thank you for all the research you did. Ok, here’s a stupid question. How do you know when it’s a butter pat vs. a doll-sized dish? A friend collects Straffordshire bp (I assume blue and white to go with her Liberty Blue dishes). I love pink roses and partial doll teasets so I am always on the lookout. I have seen old flow blue ones for $40; too steep for me! If I could find them as cheaply as you, I’d definitely start a larger collection. I love miniature (dollhouse sized) teasets and seldom pass up a reasonably priced set.

    Second stupid question. Other than the cloche suggestion, what is a pretty way to display them so their designs show? Handmade shallow sheves with a plate groove?

    1. Hi Kathy, …..Yes, you can find small shelves with plate grooves. I have one with 3 tiers…probably would hold about 15 butter pats at least, but I currently have small birds on it. If you have a lot of them there are places that advertise specialty shelves for just that purpose. Or, if you visit the dollar store you could get some tiny wooden plate stands which would fit the small butter pats perfectly. Happy collecting and displaying!

      1. Thanx for the suggestions. Sometimes I HATE my open concept house–not enough walls for all the things I want to hang and display!

        1. We down sized to an open concept retirement home and there is nowhere to hang my butter pat rack. The first rack I had was found at a thrift store and it was a thing from a church, they would slide the hymn numbers on narrow shelves, just the right size. I still have the large one my husband built, I keep thinking I will find a place but I wont. The house is all windows and few inner walls.

    2. I don’t believe there’s any “scientific” way to tell butter pat and doll dishes apart, except that if they are much smaller or much larger than 3 inches, then they are likely doll or toy plates. As far as displaying goes, I like Elaine’s ideas πŸ™‚ You can also hang three vertically on the wall and then place an empty frame around them. I’ve already got a “How to Decorate with Butter Pats” post in progress and I’ll show you how to make your own wire plate hangers. Hopefully coming soon, Kathy πŸ™‚

    3. I bought a doll dish as a child and my mom told me it actually was a butter pat, and so the collection started. We recently moved and I told my kids that I bet I had 100, and they said ‘noooo, you have more than that”. My husband made me a large wall rack with grooves to prop them up. Facebook doesn’t have a butter pat group, although it seems they have everything else. I have been wondering how to connect with other collectors. There is a national association but I don’t want to pay the fee unless I can find out more about it. Anyway…I love the article and I’m very happy to have run across it!

      1. Thanks for your kind words about my article Kay! Sounds like you have quite a collection. So nice that you have a way to display them so nicely πŸ™‚ I hope you find some fellow butter pat lovers to connect with!

      2. Kay, I think a group would be great!!! I’d join for sure. I’ve only been collecting for a few months now and I have managed to collect quite a few pieces quickly. Sometimes I’m not sure if I have a pat or a small plate/saucer.

        1. Wow, somebody found this old post. Facebook doesn’t have a group that I know of. Unfortunately I’m in no position to start one but a couple years ago I would have. In the meantime I’ve joined a collectors of toy dishes group and now have even more little things. If you can think of a way to round up more butter pat aficionados maybe we could come up with something.

  9. Hi Diana,

    What an interesting article on butter pats. You are so lucky to find them so inexpensively!!!! I used to sell a lot of them in my booth at an antique mall, but they don’t seem to sell quite as well on-line. I have a small three tier wall shelf that has groves which makes it perfect for displaying the butter pats. It is indeed a great exhibit of vintage china in miniature! Keep making us all envious of your wonderful finds!

    1. Hi Elaine! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post πŸ™‚ I noticed that they don’t seem to be great sellers on Ebay, unless really unusual or in larger sets. I bet your display is lovely–

  10. I think that butter pats are so cute and a fun collection. I have a few but always keep my eyes open for them at bargain prices! I pinned you!

  11. Such a fun collection, Diana! I have a few of them and just think they are so cute!

  12. Hi Diana,

    What size are we talking about here? I may have some from random dishes I have picked up at thrift stores. Love your collection, but then I love all of your collections. Keep them coming, they are so very interesting.

  13. Hi Diana!!

    I have fallen in love with butter pats recently. I never knew there was such a thing until about a year or so ago. And I just love wee things (AND butter!!). I’m trying not to start collecting them. So far so good but only because I can’t FIND any!

    Anyhoo – I just wanted to thank you for recommending Captain’s Treasures. I’m visiting my beau’s family and it’s about 40 minutes away. I found a vintage ceramic Christmas tree. I haven’t had a chance to check the maker but it doesn’t matter because I love it! CT is small but full of nice goodies. I also found a double deck of vintage playing cards, a vintage Christmas toy soldier ornament, a little Christmas banner made of elf boots, and a few books (including a vintage Golden Book hardback). My beau’s mom found a vintage JC Penney blouse that was practically new. She said she had a black one that she wore so much the color was starting to come out of the fabric. She wish she had that blouse in 20 colors.

    I don’t know what I was thinking but I didn’t even look at the jewelry and it was half off today!

    Anyway, thank you again for the recommendation. I told the cashier about your blog as well.

  14. I loved looking at all these pretty little butter pats, Diana. You spent some time researching them for us–thanks. I have some–can’t remember how many–little square butter pats with the copper tea leaf on them. I think they were used for putting tea bags on when you remove them from your cup though because they are stained quite a deep brown. I like them anyway. I’m going to be looking for butter pats now! As if I needed another thing to collect! But at least they are small.

  15. I love the beauty and the history you included in this post! Gonna be keeping my eyes open for some sweet little butter pat dishes to add to my home…

  16. I enjoyed your article on butter pats. I’m a 61-year-old male, so I’m probably not your typical butter pat collector. But I just inherited a collection from my mom, who passed away recently. She knew my collecting history (football cards, Matchbox cars, vinyl records, etc.) so she passed her collection of 40 or 50 pats on to me. I think they’re pretty cool. Cute, colorful, diverse, and easy to display.

    She had hers in a rectangular display case with a glass door and grooves in the shelves with which to prop up the pats. She also has little pieces of paper with the pats’ descriptions and histories, as well as a couple books!

    Anyway, I don’t have any questions (yet), but if you’re ever in the Cincinnati area, would love to show off her (my) collection!

    1. Hi Peter! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post πŸ™‚ Sounds like your mother left you the perfect collection–all organized, ready to display, and with background info. That’s pretty amazing. If you ever get the chance to take some well-lit, clear photos of the collection or part of it, I’d love to add it to this post πŸ™‚ Alternatively, you could post photos of it in my Facebook group–Your Vintage Headquarters. It’s full of crazy vintage lovers who would get a big kick out of seeing your collection(s). Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! (If I’m ever in Cinci, I’ll give you a holler…)

  17. Hi Diana, thanks for your patience. I took two photos. I’ll be happy to send them via email (I don’t do Facebook). One is the collection itself, the other are some books that Mom had by Alice Black, who knows or knew quite a lot about butter pats (several of Mom’s pats were in one of the books). Mom had a lot of notes and info on these butter pats. One of them she identified as a “Flow Blue,” and she valued it at $48.

    I think the display case here was custom-made. Not sure when or where, although I’m sure Mom told me at one point! Anyway, nice to correspond with you. I have room for a few more pats in the case, so if you ever come across any unusual ones, please let me know! Thanks, Peter.

  18. Love your butter pats. I have a couple hundred of these in a shop here in Bonita Springs Florida. People are drawn to these, most not knowing what they are, but like them. I have them staggered on a 3 step shelf as well as sitting on a couple of small wooden chairs set-up in a cabinet. They are darling and I always imagine a table set with these.
    Thank you for the article and all replies are enjoyable to see the connections to these butter pats ………………

    1. Whoa–Marilyn, a couple hundred?!! That’s amazing. I’d love to see some photographs of them. Are you a member of my private Facebook group (Your Vintage Headquarters) yet? It’s a great place to share finds and what’s happening in your antique booth.

      Your displays sound lovely; I’m so glad you enjoyed the post πŸ™‚

  19. I believe that you just (accidentally ) identified 12 tiny dishes included in the Haviland set I inherited from my great grandmother, marked GOS, CH Field Haviland, Limoges.

    She was born 1869, married when she was 18, and I assume that this set (some 75 pieces) was her wedding china. I had been mystified by the tiny 3 inch plates. Now I know–they’re butter pats!

    Now if you just know what a domed dish with an insert with a hole in the middle might be used for, I’d like to know (butter dish?)

    1. So glad I could help you identify your butter pats Penny πŸ™‚ Your unidentified domed dish does sound like it could be a butter dish. Take care!

      1. I believe they kept the butter on ice–especially if they were intricate butter curls or molded pats. The hole let the melted ice water drain off–at least that’s what I learned somewhere along the line! It’s a shame that the trivia my mind has retained won’t make me a Jeopardy champion!

  20. I just came across this article. I have been collecting Butterpat Plates for about 40 years and prefer the reatauranteware ones. I use mine as spoon rests, place a tea bag in, holds beads for a friend when we get together for an afternoon of gab and creative pursuits. This is the first time I have come across an article on them. Thank you so much for putting this together.

    1. You’re so welcome Ada!! I’m glad you enjoyed the article and thank you for sharing about your collection and some of the ways you use your pats πŸ™‚

  21. I have 120 of these little darling butter pat plates. I found some yesterday that are supposed to be butter pats, but are a little larger ( 4″). Can they really be butter pats? Anyone know? Love collecting them, and they are pretty rare in Atlanta.

  22. I’ve come here wondering if my legacy from my great-great-grandmother is a “butter pat” or not. It’s a little, oblong, unmarked hand-painted dish that’s too deep to call a “plate” and too shallow to call a “bowl.” It apparently came with her from Germany.

    1. If it measures about 3 to 3 1/2″ then it sounds like you have a butter pat Wendy! They definitely came in a variety of shapes.

  23. That’s just it: it doesn’t. It measures 4×6 by 1/2 deep–kinda small for a butter “dish” and kinda big for a butter “pat.” I’m starting to wonder if it belongs to a dresser set, though I don’t see anything like it in images of those, either.

  24. I have a butter pat collection for 20 years. I put it aside when I moved. Your wonderful article had me digging them out to enjoy them again. Now I want to go out and get more. I used them as teabag holders. Each one is different and everyone, most never heard of butter pats, loves them. I love learning about the history. Thank you so much.
    Dee

    1. Oh that makes my heart happy Dee! I’m so glad you’re getting so much enjoyment from them now that you’ve “dug” them out πŸ™‚

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