Mar 24, 2011

An Ode to Butter Pats

When we first saw these cuties, we thought they were little salt dishes. It also seemed that they were about the right size for a child's tea set, but we don't know many parents who would give their little children such nice dishware for a playset...

At only 3 inches in diameter, we thought they would make a perfect salt and pepper set for a formal table setting.

Turns out, we was wrong. They are actually "butter pats."

Butter pats! How adorable! 

Other names for these great little pieces include "butter chips," "butters," "butter pat plates," "butter pads" and "individual butters." As all these names suggest, butter pats are small dishes for serving an individual pat of butter to diners at the table. 

Several different butter shapes were used in butter pats. Sometimes it was a simple square of butter, other times it was a pat of butter molded into a pretty shape (such as a rosette) or stamped with an image (such as a family crest).

Butter pats were apparently the height of fashion from the 1880s to the 1910s, back when butter was typically made at home. Back before the advent of convenient pre-packaged butter quarters. (Can you imagine having to churn, knead, and mold your own butter? I certainly can't.) 

Butter pats were commonly a part of china sets until the early 20th century. After that, they started fading from use, especially as butter became more commercially available.  

Today, butter pats are quite collectible. There is even an association dedicated to butter pat collectors, called, unsurprisingly, The Butter Pat Patters Association. (Try saying that five times fast.) I'm not sure what butter pat patters do, but my bet is that it's a unique bunch.

Modern Butter Pats for Brunch
Butter Pats for the Modern Kitchen
We think a movement to bring back the butter pat is in order. It's just so very .... civilized. Not to mention that we can all use a little more vintage in our lives!

Now, if formal, vintage Victorian isn't quite your style, take a look at this neat idea on how to bring the butter pat to your modern brunch table. And if you really want to get adventurous, you can make your own molded pats of butter to put on your (vintage or modern) butter pats!

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