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Old sets of china tell us about dining fashions of the past. With dishes for specific foods, they show us what people valued when serving a meal. They provide insight into manners that were employed at the tables of our ancestors.
A complete set of Haviland would have many dishes that arenít produced in todayís patterns. A set made in 1910 was offered with 106 pieces--all for $20.00! Curved dishes in a half moon shape are bone plates for fish bones. Fish was often served as a first course. Bowls with a wide rim are soup bowls. Soup was an important part of the dinner. A set may include small round plates seemingly sized for a doll. These are butter dishes, designed to hold one pat of butter. Berry bowls, smaller than soup or cereal bowls, held fresh fruit that came at the end of the meal. They were used with a special cutlery set of small forks and a serving spoon.
Haviland was a well known maker of pottery for the American market for 100 years. Located in Limoges, France, the company and its offshoots produced 60,000 patterns and hundreds of thousands of pieces for the export market. Middle class Americans purchased sets of Haviland for their good dishes. Carefully kept and displayed, brought out only for special occasions, these dishes remain in many families as treasured items of family history.
Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff