This post provides information about collecting butter pats, where to find them and how to identify different styles.
Butter pats have been stalking me lately. They pop up in my social media feeds, on Google searches, on Etsy and on Ebay. Frequently, I see images of them stacked high in an old cupboard full of ironstone. This made me realize that it would be beneficial to write a post on collecting butter pats and that you may have questions about them. So, I will share what I know about finding and identifying vintage butter pats.
Collecting Butter Pats
I have always loved their petite size, especially when they have a back stamp, for a variety of uses. In my opinion, they are a great item to collect because:
- They don’t take up much space
- They are still relatively affordable (I consider items less than $20 to be affordable)
- They have many practical every day uses
Butter pats were originally included as a part of a larger fine china collection or used as restaurant ware and -yes- they held pats of butter.
Stacks and stacks of small butter pats always look charming in a cupboard. In my opinion, the older the butter pat – the better. My favorite butter pats are those made of ironstone that have a chunky appearance and a back stamp. Whenever I am out and about, I am always on the lookout for those beauties.
However, I also find the less chunky (thinner) butter pats with their simple designs very appealing.
The photo above shows 8 butter pats I found with the “Alfred Meakin” stamp on the back. I practically sprinted to the register to pay for them. Collecting butter pats is fun because due to their size they are often times over looked and when you stumble upon a set – it’s almost like you found a little treasure.
Every Day Uses for Butter Pats
Here are some ideas for every day uses.
- Use them to hold coarse salt
- Use them to hold small earrings and rings
- Use them to hold chopped up fresh herbs such as cilantro, scallions, thyme, basil or oregano
- Use them to hold pre-measured spices for a meal you are preparing
- Use them to hold dipping sauces – they work well for hoisin, soy sauce and tempura dipping sauce.
- Use them for holding small notions such a safety pins, beads, and buttons
- Use them for holding bobby pins, hair bands, and hair clips
- They make great little vessels for holding paint
- Use them to organize your desk and hold stamps, paper clips, tacks and more
- Stack them up in the cupboard and they will make you smile every time you pass by them.
The photo above shows another set of 8 butter pats that I found this past winter with the “WH Grindley & Co” back stamp. I put them in my booth at Stone Soup Antiques and they sold quickly so I am glad I took photos of them. I love that each butter pat had a back stamp.
Who Made Butter Pats?
There were a number of butter pat producers. They were made in different countries and during different time periods. Generally, you can find butter pats made in England, France, Denmark, Germany, Japan and, of course, the United States.
Antique and vintage butter pats made in England are very similar to ironstone. While they don’t always have a back stamp, the older ones can be marked with well known makers like “Johnson Brothers”, “J&G Meakin”, and “T &R Boote”. If you research the back stamp on these butter pats you will be able to estimate their age. Further, ironstone butter pats that are thick, as opposed to the delicate and thin butter pats, are highly sought after by collectors. It is not unusual for these small little thick pats to sell for more than $20 each.
These butter pats shown above are solid white and as you can see, they were made in England.
I found this cute little pile during a trip to Maine. They had a very simple gold leaf design on the inside. The design looks a little bit like a running shamrock. These do not have a back stamp but I still found them to be charming.
Butter pats were also made in America as restaurant ware during the 1940s-1950s. These butter pats tend to be thicker and often times are embellished with simple stripes around the edges. These vintage butter pats were often made by “Syracuse”, “Buffalo” , or “Shenango”. Sometimes, there is a stamp on the back, but more often than not, these butter pats have no mark.
In addition to those butter pats made in England and in America, you can also find producers in Denmark, France and Japan. These butter pats usually have delicate floral motifs and are hand painted. They are also thin and light weight since they are usually made of porcelain.
Finally, it is worth noting there are square butter pats! Typically the square butter pats I have found were made in England and are well over 100 years old. Since these are not as common as round butter pats, the prices are often a little higher than the typical round porcelain butter pats.
Finding Butter Pats
I usually find vintage and antique butter pats for the best prices at flea markets, church sales, auctions, and estate sales. If I am extremely lucky, I will find a set of butter pats at a yard sale – however -this has only happened once in the past 10 years.
The best places to find butter pats are online because you can be specific about what you are searching for. I frequently search on Ebay and Etsy. For example, are you looking for delicate hand painted butter pats made in France by Limoges? Or are you looking for a chunky antique ironstone butter pat made in England? Having said that, you will pay the highest prices for butter pats you purchase online.
Antique stores are also a good source for butter pats. You just have to keep your eyes open as you wander through booths and down the aisles. Although the prices of these butter pats may not be as high as online prices, they will still be more expensive than if you find butter pats at a flea market, yard sale or church sale.
I have some butter pats in stock in my booth at Stone Soup. (Although by the time you read this, that may have changed)
Some butter pats that I found listed on Etsy are shown below.
Price of Butter Pats
Of course, the big question is how much do these butter pats cost? The answer is , it depends. The most sought after butter pats are usually early ironstone pieces with a back stamp. They are especially collectible if they are “chunky”. These collectible butter pats usually start at around $20 a piece and the cost increases from there.
Antique butter pats with transferware patterns are also highly collectible. These can range in price from $10-$15 a piece or more.
I previously mentioned that square butter pats are more difficult to find. You can usually find these for $15 or more a piece.
Restaurant ware butter pats are also very collectible. They are thicker and chunkier compared to the porcelain counterparts. These were often used in diners and were made between 1940-1960. Since these are also very collectible, they generally sell for $15-$20 a piece or more.
Finally, you find a good number of porcelain butter pats with floral motifs on them. These are the most common types of butter pats to be found. They tend to be thinner and lighter in keeping with the “fine dining” experience they are associated with. These butter pats are generally $5 a piece or more. If you find a matching set of 6 or more, then definitely buy them. Finding matching sets of butter pats can be a challenge.
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Best of luck in pursuit of your butter pats!
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