Tea plates

by Larry
(Knoxville, Tn)

When I watch people having afternoon tea in English movies they often place their cake or sandwich on a small plate which they usually perch on their knee.

I started collecting teacups and saucers several years ago, both because I like them and because it gives me a reason to explore antique shops. It's easy to find cups and saucers but I rarely ever see the tea plates.

I wonder if I have been mistaken about them. Have I only imagined those small plates or have they all somehow been broken or separated from their matching cups and saucers? What does everyone else use to hold their watercress sandwiches?



Hello Larry

Thank you for your thoughts on tea plates. I have a set of 6 small plates given me by my sister-in-law. They had been in her family for many years.

Have you tried e-Bay, I have picked up some nice tea sets there. If you check out my pages on Royal Albert china you will see a picture of a tea cup and saucer sitting on top of a slightly larger plate. This plate would be used for tea sandwiches. I did a quick search on eBay through that page, typed in tea plates and did find a few. Not many, but I'd say it would be worth a look.

All the best
Connie and Crew

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Tea Cup, Saucer & Plate
by: Nell

Hi Larry,

I collect the Royal Albert Blossom Time pattern, most of my purchases of the cup and saucer have included the plate. Believe it or not it started with 1 cup, saucer and plate left to me by my grandmother and has grown over the past few years to well over 100 pieces, though that includes platters, cake stands, dinner plates etc.

In the beginning I would find a cup, sometimes with the saucer and plate and sometimes without. And I purchased regardless, because of the print having been out of manufacture for a while and I truly do love the pattern.

Now that my collection has gotten to the point it has, I can afford to be a bit more discerning in what I purchase.

I generally don't purchase the cup, plate and saucer separately, unless, like my last purchase they are part of a bigger collection which includes one or more pieces that I don't have and do want.

The reason I generally don't purchase separately now, is that I want the backstamps to match, as the pattern was in print for 60 odd years, the back stamp changed 4 times (I think) so if purchased separately the cup, saucer and plate set/setting could potentially have 3 different backstamps.

If you have a look on ebay or any second hand/antique dealers, you will find a mix of cup & saucer and cup, saucer & plates - you just need to decide which you want to collect and how you want to display!

Also just on a side note and to add possibly a bit more confusion... You can also get tennis or hostess sets (the name seems to be interchangeable depending on where you are - though this is just my observation and I could be wrong as I don't collect these but have seen them several times). These sets consist of a tea cup, and elongated saucer come plate.

Most of the basic ones I have seen are just an oval with the indentation for the cup to sit at one end and then an area about the same size as the plate in a cup, saucer, plate set for your biscuit/cake/ sandwich at the other.

The more elaborate ones I have seen are similar in principle, but instead of just being a basic oval, looking directly down on them, they are 2 separate circles/ovals and I have even seen rectangles and diamonds.

The benefit of these sets are obviously that it only takes one hand to hold so you don't have to perch the plate on your knee!

Hope that helps!

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