Dinner Services - The story of the dinner service - large and small plates, soup bowls, meat plate, vegetable tureens and comports - begins in the middle of the 18th century. Although plates, cups and dishes existed before this, the British pottery industry, localized and disorganized, did not make them to uniform designs.

 

Click Here

Chatelaine's Antiques and Appraisals Magazine > Decorative Arts > Ceramics > Dinner Services
 


Collecting Egg Cups

Differences Between Chinese and Japanese Porcelain

Chinese Sculpture

Chinese Snuff Bottles

Chinese Dynasty Names

Japanese Pottery


See our selected porcelain items in our shop

1950s Tableware
Art Deco Coffee Sets
Art Deco European Figurines
Art Pottery
Wedgwood Black Basalte or Basalt
Biedermeier porcelain and ceramics
Victorian Breakfast China
Breakfast China
Repairing Broken China
Fixing Broken China
Chamber Pots
Character Jugs
Cheese Dishes
Identifying China
Chinese Porcelain
Cow Creamers
Cream Jugs
Wedgewood Cream Ware (creamware)
Danish China - Royal Copenhagen Factory
Danish Table China - Royal Copenhagen Factory
Derby Figures
Dinner Service
Doulton Figures
English Majolica ceramics
English porcelain and ceramics
Conta and Boehme Fairings
French Sevres Porcelain
French Porcelain
Goss Ware ceramics
Jugendstil Pottery
Mantelpiece Garnitures
Martin Brothers Pottery
Mason's Ironstone
Victorian Meat Plates
Mending Broken China
Noritake China
Oriental Porcelain
Wedgwood Pearlware
Pot Pourri vases and jars
Identifying Pottery
Pottery Marks
Collecting Salt and Pepper Shakers
Satsuma Pottery
Sevres Porcelain
Staffordshire Figures
Wade Whimsies
Collecting Wall Plates
Wedgewood Jasper Ware
West Country Art Pottery
Willow Pattern China
Worchester Porcelain

 
Dinner China


DINNER SERVICES

 The enormous dinner services so prized by the Victorians have mostly been broken up; reassembling one is an enjoyable challenge for today's collectors.

 The story of the dinner service - large and small plates, soup bowls, meat plate, vegetable tureens and comports - begins in the middle of the 18th century. Although plates, cups and dishes existed before this, the British pottery industry, localized and disorganized, did not make them to uniform designs.

 A dinner service came to be seen as a status symbol by rich families, who liked to display their wealth to guests. They were mostly one-offs, custom-made from English soft paste porcelain. These elegant services continued to be made from about 1745 until the early 1800s, although breakages and the split up of services through inheritance mean that complete set is a great rarity today.

 The fashion for dinner services spread to the burgeoning middle classes. They were cate d for by the Staffordshire potters, who produced more affordable designs in both earthenware and stoneware. A great leap forward came in 1761, when Josiah Wedgwood combined a strong, earthenware body with a fine, cream-coloured glaze.

 This first 'creamware' proved instantly popular. Five years later Wedgwood introduced chin clay and china stone into the creamware, and in 1780 reduced the amount of the latter to create an improved version, known as 'pearlware', which proved to be an ideal ground for the newly fashionable decorative technique, transfer printing.

 There was a great variety of transfer designs in the Regency period, often associated with gilding, but the most popular were oriental motifs, with willow pattern predominating. This fashion for all things oriental spread to hard paste porcelain, bone china and - a special favourite for dinner services - Mason's Ironstone, patented in 1813.

PAINTED DECORATION

 The best quality services were hand-painted. Factories such as Worcester, Derby and Coalport produced handsome services in sizes to suit the grandest mansions and smaller homes alike. Because Victorian families tended to be so large, it was not unusual for services to boast 18 or 24 place settings as well as a variety of dishes, tureens and comports.

 As time went on, the average size of services decreased with the size of families. Six or eight place settings were normal by the Edwardian period. Throughout the 19th century, services continued to be made in bone china and porcelain as well as earthenware and stoneware. The cheaper materials, though, came to predominate as more and more families could afford to acquire the badge of respectability that was a dresser displaying their 'best' china service.

 A dinner service was not just for dining. Whether it was brought out to impress guests invited to a formal meal or proudly displayed on a dresser, it showed that the owner was a person of substance and standing in the community, who appreciated the finer things in life.

COLLECTOR'S NOTES

 The choice of 19th-century dinner services available to the collector is as wide as it was to the Victorians, but the price of a complete service has risen dramatically, far beyond the pockets of most people. As a result, the most practical approach to collecting is to buy single pieces, and attempt to build up a complete service over time.

 Look around at what is available, and read general books on Victorian pottery and porcelain. Choose one or two factories and styles that you like and make yourself familiar with their marks. Thus armed, you can look for individual pieces in china dealers, general antiques shops, markets and fairs, and even in boot sales and junk shops.

PAY AND DISPLAY

 You are most likely to find plates and bowls for sale, but the quality and price of a service is largely fixed by the number of large pieces tureens, meat plates and comports - it contains, and these pieces are correspondingly more expensive when you buy them singly.

 Dinner services can of course be used, but many of them were made as much for display as for the table. If you have the space for it, a Victorian dresser can be the ideal place to show off your treasures.

  Until 1828, finishing detail on transfer printed landscapes was pointed over the glaze. After that, new techniques make underglaze finishing a possibility.
If a piece is crazed, the irregular cross crossing lines should be fairly close together. Where it has been faked, the crazing is widely spaced.
Many porcelain designs were inspired by the French factory, Sevres, particularly Coalport and Worcester. The gilding is noticeably thinner on the British examples.
Colours on earthenware are much bolder than on porcelain, which is translucent.
Chipped edges reduce value, but it is worth considering a slightly damaged piece to help build up a service.



.

Chinese Export Porcelain, Standard Patterns and Forms, 1780-1880: Standard Patterns and Forms
by Herbert

Chinese Export Porcelain in the 19th Century: The Canton Famille Rose Porcelains by John Quentin Feller

Chinese Potter: A Practical History of Chinese Ceramics
by Margaret Medley

Mounted Oriental Porcelain in the J. Paul Getty Museum
by Gillian Wilson

For the Imperial Court: Qing Porcelain from the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art
by Rosemary Scott

Spode's Willow Pattern
by Robert Copeland

Special Exhibition of Ch'Ing Dynasty Enameled Porcelain of Imperial Ateliers / Written in English & Chinese

The Copeland Collection : Chinese and Japanese Ceramic Figures
by William Sargent

The Helen D. Ling Collection of Chinese Ceramics
by Jason Kuo

Chinese Ceramics: Porcelain of the Qing Dynasty 1644-1911
by Rose Kerr

Blue and White: Chinese Porcelain Around the World
by John Carswell

Antique Trader's Pottery & Porcelain Ceramics Price Guide
by Kyle Husfloen

Collectors Encyclopedia of Nippon Poreclain: Identification & Values
by Joan Van Patten

Collector's Encyclopedia of Flow Blue China: Values Updated 2000 (Second Series)
by Mary Frank Gaston

Restaurant China: Identification & Value Guide for Restaurant, Airline, Ship & Railroad Dinnerware
by Barbara Conroy

Warman's American Pottery & Porcelain
by Al Bagdade

Royal Doulton
by Julie McKewon