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A Guide to European Tableware

I have never been fascinated by plates myself but thanks to this guide I learned a lot of interesting things which, in turn, ignited my passion. Here are some basics in the “dinnerware” world that you might not have known about. It might help when choosing your next exceptional addition to your house.

Ceramic plates can mean that they are made from the following materials:
Bone China – originated in England relatively recently (the 1800’s) and is known for its mechanical strength and chip resistance. This allows for thinner walls in your ware, which goes well with its naturally high level of whiteness and translucency. It can also be called “china”, “porcelain” and “English porcelain” more

Porcelain – is a vaguely used term that can include bone china and even stoneware. In very generic terms it contains kaolin clay which makes it white, translucent and strong. Porcelain wares are frequently painted and decorated. It contains similar, but a lower level of performance and appearance than bone china.
Earthenware – is the oldest pottery craft that was mainstream until the 18th century. It is a type of ceramic that is structurally less strong than a porcelain. It is also relatively soft, making it easy to be scratched with a knife. Terracotta pots would be a perfect example of the earthenware. Therefore when producing plates it is common to glaze and decorate them.
Stoneware – another example of technology that dates back to the deep history (1900 BC if you wish to be precise). It is made out of stone or non-refractory fire clay that is only partially vitrified. Despite that, it is resistant to scratching by a steel point. Due to the fact that the clay has a “dirty” look, it is common to glaze and decorate it too.
Horn wine and bottle openers darkCork opener from antlerAntler handle cork openerUnique wine opener made in England

Antler or Horn Handle Wine Opener

MADE IN: England FOUNDED IN: 1749 PRICE: €35 – €50

These wine openers are made by a Abbeyhorn, an English company which specialised in everything made from horns, for over 250 years.

Horn is a natural biodegradable material which has been used since humans evolved on earth. Hence essentially the concept and skill of horn products go back as far as humanity.


A bit more about making process. Antler horns are sourced from Scotland, where the wild deer population is thriving. Antler is maintained it is original shape and condition as much as possible due to its charm.

Cow horn, on the other hand, is polished and carved to achieve this luxurious and aesthetically pleasing look you see in the picture.

All wine/cork openers can be engraved up to 25 characters, should you wish to give this as a personalised present.

Picture credits to Abbeyhorn.

Tea Potcontemporary English mugsEnglish China Egg Cup


Quality Bonne China does not have to mean traditional shapes and designs. While all of the RepeatRepeat tableware is made by traditional methods that involve hand finish, the designs are clearly anything but. Daring and visually striking finishes are coming from founders and in-house designers who like to appeal to a more contemporary orientated audience.


The company initially started as a graphic design studio. Due to daily proximity to bone china manufacturers in Stoke-on-Trent, they slowly

drifted to doing more and more pottery related designs. Now they own their own studio and pottery workshop while still maintaining that design studio on site.


MADE IN: England ESTABLISHED IN: 1982 PRICE RANGE: €15 – €95

Bilame original wine openerWine opener made in FranceCork Opener

Bilame Wine Opener

MADE IN: France ESTABLISHED IN: 1929 PRICE: €30 – €85

Made by famous L’Aterlier du Vin company the design of this wine opener follows blueprint from 1949. Designed and made in France it makes a great unique present for any wine lover.

It is unique for its twin blades (vs the usual screw), which does not crumble or damage the cork. Ideal for those older wine bottles.


This wine opener was widely used by Parisian sommeliers after the war. Since twin blades do not damage the cork, they would open wine bottles to sip wine before closing it and selling it to unsuspecting


British classic ceramicsCake Stand made in EnglandBritish TablewareClassic cup made in England


One of the long-standing companies in the UK that have kept its craftsmanship and expertise in the same Wedgwood factory based in Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent, England, since 1789. Jasperware would be the most well-known range of ceramic ware still made in the same way for over 200 years. Having said this the company has also moved on with times and created many contemporary as well as very decorative ranges designed by artists.


Jesiah Wedgwood produced first neo-classical vases in the UK, in 1789. They are seen as Expand..

one of the “most famous ceramic innovations” which were one of the most popular products at the time and still has a strong following today. Interestingly, they are essentially reproductions of the Greek vases that were discovered by Victorian explorers. So as we see Wedgwood as an ultimate statement to the long-standing heritage, if you wish, you could now trace it all the way to the Greek empire days.

Their products do not stop with tableware, hence it is worth visiting their website or even the factory if you are visiting Britain, albeit that would potentially make it “designed in Greece, made in Britain”.


MADE IN: England ESTABLISHED IN: 1789 PRICE RANGE: £14 – £1900

French Tableware brandHaviland Made in FranceFine china plate from France


One of the best known french brands for fine china. Partly due to its deep history spanning for over 150 years and partly due to the exceptional quality that made it so famous. Most of today’s Haviland china comes from its original birthplace – Limoges city in France, which benefits from natural resources of exceptionally pure white clay called Kaolin.


It was very hard to choose the best interesting story so we selected our favourite three:
White House has used Haviland china extensively in the past (today we Expand..

unfortunately do not know – probably due to stricter security levels). Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Benjamin Harrison are just a few famous people to use these plates on a regular basis.

Considering that Haviland brand is so quintessentially french, it is interesting to know that it was actually established by an American. David Haviland, an American China retailer from NYC was fascinated by the quality of china coming from Limoges city in France. But he did not like the overall design though. So he decided to change the mainstream french design and make it more appealing to his US customers. When locals refused to change their ways he boldly moved to France, built his own factory and, despite strong local opposition, introduced his own style. It was a great success and therefore most of his production went exclusively to the US, and, at the beginning, was not even sold in Europe.

Haviland’s family developed and introduced chromo lithographic decorations on porcelain, a method which was later introduced by virtually all-porcelain makers.


MADE IN: France ESTABLISHED IN: 1842 (first shipment to the USA) PRICE RANGE: €TBC

It is worth noting that over a period of 150 years of manufacturing the company has produced 20,000 to 30,000 of different designs so far. But not all of them would be coming from France. Haviland kept changing and adapting so those pieces of china were made in seven different continents by five companies over that period of time. So if you are aiming for ‘safe’ made in France, buy newly made pieces – they are definitely made in Limoges.
On the other hand, there is a huge collector’s following for Haviland products.


Crate & Barrel

Due to easy availability of natural resources required, Portugal is an expert country in producing all types of crockery. Crate & Barrel utilises this old standing expertise in producing these quite unusual pieces. Differently from the majority of other plates you might have come across before, they are not perfectly rounded or straight In fact it’s imperfection is a design feature to make plates look a little more rustic, down to earth and original.


Crate & Barrel is exclusively sold in the luxury shops based in the US. If you are based in Europe, despite the fact that these products are made in Portugal, you would have to mail order from the US shop and… Expand..

consequently pay an import tax.


MADE IN: Portuga PRICE RANGE: 20 piece dinnerware set £145

It belongs to a stoneware category, where crockery is fired at extremely high temperatures. This process creates extremely durable products that also benefit from reactive glazes which create a smooth look.
Crate& Barrel has enlisted artists and makers from Portugal to create this dinnerware set called ‘Marin’ it also comes in six different colours.
Since the majority of Slate& Barrel shops are located in North America, if you are based elsewhere you still potentially have an option to online shopping. They have a long list of countries they ship to.

Tableware brand from EnglandBritish porcelain cupClassic porcelain made in EnglandPorcelain oval plate made in EnglandRoyal Crown Derby Saucer

Royal Crown Derby

This can easily be described as tableware for royalty. Undeniably it produces the highest quality English Fine Bone China. Located in Darby, as you might guess from the name, the company employs around 200 people and is well known around the world.


Currently famous TV series about British department store “Mr. Selfridge” used Royal Crown Derby tableware for their scenes of British life.

To use the word “Royal” in your company name one needs to get permission from the Royal Family. Royal Crown Derby have been Expand..

granted the permission by Her Majesty The Queen Victoria in 1890.


MADE IN: Great Britain ESTABLISHED IN: around 1750 PRICE RANGE: £50 – £2000

The company also runs a very popular visitor centre that consists of a museum and a shop. People can even visit a factory to see the manufacturing process.

Mason Cash mixing bowls

An ultimate classic and bakers dream – mixing bowls. Traditionally they came in this specific colour due to yellow clay excavated locally at Church Gresley – the heart of British ceramic industry. The company has moved with time. Luckily! Considering that they trace their roots to 1800s. These days you can also get other colours and designs. They also expanded their product range to pet plates, which seem to be very popular.


These mixing bowls are seen as the ultimate British classic, but there is an interesting twist to the story: Expand..

Although the looks are the same as more than 100 years ago (if you go for traditional range), they are actually made in Portugal. The ceramics industry is almost non-existent in Britain today; hence Mason Cash sources it from Portuguese makers.


MADE IN: Portugal ESTABLISHED IN: around 1800 PRICE RANGE: £2.20 – £24.00

The iconic Mason Cash mixing bowl was originally designed in 1901. It is still one of the most popular products that do add a touch of rustic classic to any kitchen. Today there is a choice of different products to choose from: mixing bowls, pudding bases, oven bakeware, cake decorating tools, utensils and accessories.

Interestingly another of their most popular products are pet bowls that come in different sizes and personal messages. It, of course, comes in cane classic colour but also has more colourful options too.