Flatware refers to table utensils used to serve and eat food, such as forks, spoons, butter knives and plates, all of which are fairly flat in design. Price depends on quality and the number of settings included, and can range from about US$10 for stainless steel at your local department store to several hundred dollars for sterling silver.
Large placements of sterling silver flatware can easily cost well over one thousand dollars. Wander and Aunt, some designers like Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein also offer flatware.
Other designers like Versace and Vera Wang have lines of coordinated dinnerware and flatware, sold separately. With the wide variety in styles, price range and availability, the right flatware can be found for any purpose, taste and budget.
For everyday flatware, save money by checking to see that the set has what you require, without extra utensils you won't use. Tableware is the dishes or dishware used for setting a table, serving food and dining.
It includes cutlery, glassware, serving dishes and other items for practical as well as decorative purposes. For example, Middle Eastern, Indian or Polynesian food culture and cuisine sometimes limits tableware to serving dishes, using bread or leaves as individual plates.
Special occasions are usually reflected in higher quality tableware. Outside the US, flatware is a term for “open-shaped” dishware items such as plates, dishes and bowls (as opposed to “closed” shapes like jugs and vases).
Tableware and table decoration is typically more elaborate for special occasions. In recent centuries, flatware is usually made of pottery, ceramic materials such as earthenware, stoneware, bone china or porcelain.
tableware can be made of other materials such as wood, pewter, latter, silver, gold, glass, acrylic and plastic. Industrialization and developments in ceramic manufacture made inexpensive washable tableware available.
Individual pieces, such as those needed as replacement pieces for broken dishes, can be procured from “open stock” inventory at shops, or from antique dealers if the pattern is no longer in production. Cutlery is normally made of metal of some kind, though large pieces such as ladles for serving may be of wood.
One of a handful of medieval survivals, solid gold with enamels. The earliest pottery in cultures around the world does not seem to have included flatware, concentrating on pots and jars for storage and cooking. Wood does not survive well in most places, and though archaeology has found few wooden plates and dishes from prehistory, they may have been common, once the tools to fashion them were available.
Ancient elites in most cultures preferred flatware in precious metals (“plate”) at the table; China and Japan were two major exceptions, using lacquerware and later fine pottery, especially porcelain. In Europe pewter was often used by the less well off, and eventually the poor, and silver or gold by the rich.
Muhammad spoke against using gold at table, as the contemporary elites of Persia and the Byzantine Empire did, and this greatly encouraged the growth of Islamic pottery. In Europe the elites dined off metal, usually silver for the rich and pewter for the middling classes, from the ancient Greeks and Romans until the 18th century.
In the Middle Ages this was a common way of serving food, the bread also being eaten; even in elite dining it was not fully replaced in France until the 1650s, although in Italy majolica was used from the 15th century. In the late Middle Ages and for much of the Early Modern period much of a great person's disposable assets were often in “plate”, vessels and tableware in precious metal, and what was not in use for a given meal was often displayed on a dresser DE parent or buffet (similar to a large Welsh dresser) against the wall in the dining hall.
At the wedding of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, and Isabella of Portugal in 1429, there was a dresser 20 feet long on either side of the room, each with five rows of plate; a similar display on three dressers could be seen at the State Banquet in Buckingham Palace for President Donald J. Trump in 2019. Inventories of King Charles V of France (r. 1364–1380) record that he had 2,500 pieces of plate.
Plate was often melted down to finance wars or building, or until the 19th century just for remaking in a more fashionable style, and hardly any of the enormous quantities recorded in the later Middle Ages survives. Another is the much plainer English silver La cock Cup, which has survived as it was bequeathed to a church early on, for use as a chalice.
By the later 16th century, “even the poorer citizens dined off pewter rather than wood” and had plate, jars and pots made from “green glazed earthenware”. The final replacement of silver tableware with porcelain as the norm in French aristocratic dining had taken place by the 1770s.
After this the enormous development of European porcelain and cheaper fine earthenware like faience and creamware, as well as the resumption of large imports of Chinese export porcelain, often armorial porcelain decorated to order, led to matching “china” services becoming affordable by an ever-wider public. By 1800 cheap versions of these were often brightly decorated with transfer printing in blue, and were beginning to be affordable by the better-off working-class household.
Until the mid-19th century the American market was largely served by imports from Britain, with some from China and the European continent. The introduction of hot drinks, mostly but not only tea and coffee, as a regular feature of eating and entertaining, led to a new class of tableware.
It developed in the late 17th century, and for some time the serving pots, milk jugs and sugar bowls were often in silver, while the cups and saucers were ceramic, often in Chinese export porcelain or its Japanese equivalent. By the mid 18th century matching sets of European “china” were usual for all the vessels, although these often did not include plates for cake etc.
This move to local china was rather delayed by the tendency of some early types of European soft-paste porcelain to break if too hot liquid was poured into it. The knife is much the oldest type of cutlery; early ones were normally carried by the individual at all times.
Forks and spoons came later, initially only for the wealthy, who typically carried their own personal set. It was only in the 17th century that hosts among the elite again began to lay out cutlery at the table, although at an Italian banquet in 1536 for Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, it is recorded that each guest was provided with knife, spoon and fork, evidently a rarity.
The table fork was revived in Italy in the 16th century, and was described for his English readers by Thomas Cory at in the 1590s as “not used in any other country that I saw in my travels”. In England and France, it only became common after the 1660s, even in the court of Louis XIV, and for a while seems to have mostly been used by ladies, and for especially messy food, like fruits in syrup.
Tableware is generally the functional part of the settings on dining tables but great attention has been paid to the purely decorative aspects, especially when dining is regarded as part of entertainment such as in banquets given by important people or special events, such as State occasions. During the reign of George III of the United Kingdom, ephemeral table decoration was done by men known as “double-deckers” who used sand and similar substances to create marmot into works (sand painting) for single-use decoration.
In modern times, ephemeral table decorations continue to be made from sugar or carved from ice. The porcelain figurine began in early 18th-century Germany as a permanent replacement for sugar sculptures on the dining table.
In wealthy countries such as 17th century France, table decorations for the aristocracy were sometimes made of silver. Ephemeral and silver table decorations were replaced with porcelain items after its reinvention in Europe in the 16th century.
Setting the table for a family meal, Leipzig (1952) A table setting in Western countries is mainly in one of two styles: service à la Russo (French for “in the Russian style “), where each course of the meal is brought out in specific order; and service à la franchise (French for “in the French style”), where all the courses for the meal are arranged on the table and presented at the same time that guests are seated. Place settings for service à la Russo dining are arranged according to the number of courses in the meal.
As each course is finished the guest leaves the used cutlery on the used plate or bowl, which are removed from the table by the server. Service à la Russo formal place setting showing glassware for a range of beveragesTable laid out for a banquet in Toulouse at the Calais Nail (2010) Plates Dinner plate with rolled table napkin; small bread plate above forks.
Above the plate, dessert cutlery (spoon and fork). Items of tableware include a variety of plates, bowls ; or cups for individual diners and a range of serving dishes to transport the food from the kitchen or to separate smaller dishes. Bowls include those used for soup, cereal, pasta, fruit or dessert.
Plates are standardized in descending order of diameter size according to function. Tea and coffee tend to involve strong social rituals and so teacups and, coffee cups (including demitasse cups) have a shape that depends on the culture and the social situation in which the drink is taken.
A basic formal place setting will usually have a dinner plate at the center, resting on a charger. The rest of the place setting depends upon the first course, which may be soup, salad or fish.
When more courses are being served, place settings may become more elaborate and cutlery more specialized. Other types of cutlery, such as boning forks, were used when formal meals included dishes that have since become less common.
Tableware for serving mint tea Place markers are used to designate assigned seats to guests. The emphasis in Chinese table settings is on displaying each individual food in a pleasing way, usually in separate bowls or dishes.
Serving bowls and dishes are brought to the table, where guests can choose their own portions. Formal Chinese restaurants often use a large turning wheel in the center of the table to rotate food for easier service.
In a family setting, a meal typically includes a fan dish, which constitutes the meal's base (much like bread forms the base of various sandwiches), and several accompanying mains, called CAI dish (choir or sound in Cantonese). More specifically, fan usually refers to cooked rice, but can also be other staple grain-based foods.
New Year sake set with images of cranes, lacquer on wood (Japan, late 19th century)A Japanese table setting. Japanese ceramic tableware is an industry that is many centuries old. Unlike in Western cultures, where tableware is often produced and bought in matching sets, Japanese tableware is set on the table so that each dish complements the type of food served in it.
Since Japanese meals normally include several small amounts of each food per person, this means that each person has a place setting with several small dishes and bowls for holding individual food and condiments. The emphasis in a Japanese table setting is on enhancing the appearance of the food, which is partially achieved by showing contrasts between the items.
Hot noodle bowl Rice bowl Soup bowl Two to three shallow 3- to 5-inch diameter dishes Two to three 3- to 5-inch diameter, 1- to 3-inch-deep bowls Two square or rectangular pieces, traditionally served for serving fish Three 2- to 3-inch diameter condiment plates Cold noodle tray with bamboo strainer Dipping sauce cup Chopsticks and chopstick rest Business-class airline meal with tightly arranged plates, single-service condiments and serving tray.
Dining in the outdoors, for example, whether for recreational purposes, as on a picnic or as part of a journey, project or mission requires specialized tableware. China and Glass in America, 1880-1980: From Table Top to TV Tray.
The bride arrived by sea in late 1429, but the formal marriage ceremony was not until January 1430. Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat: Secrets of My Mother's Tokyo Kitchen.
Osborne, Harold (ed), The Oxford Companion to the Decorative Arts, 1975, Out, ISBN 0198661134 Strong, Roy, Feast: A History of Grand Eating, 2002, Jonathan Cape, ISBN 0224061380 Media related to Tableware at Wikimedia Commons Jones, Edward Alfred (1911).