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Butter Plates (Set of Twelve)

Not on view

Butter Plates (Set of Twelve)

Maker: Gorham Manufacturing Company (active Providence, Rhode Island, 1831-present)

Date: 1879
Medium: Gilded silver
Overall: 3 x 3in. (7.6 x 7.6cm)
Signed: 3 Gorham stamps / Sterling / 40 / L; engraved: MCT
Credit Line: Museum Purchase by exchange with funds from the Proctor Bequest
Object number:
Label Text
In the 1860s butter began to be produced by factory methods; however it continued to be expensive. Individual butter plates or "pats" were a way to serve butter sparingly and to call attention to the high-status food by framing it.

These butter plates are miniature artworks that illustrate nineteenth-century designers' fascination with Japanese art. At the Centennial Exposition of 1876, the Japanese department captivated the imagination of the American public. To meet consumer demand Japanese-style wares, silver firms such as Gorham eagerly emulated the Japanese emphasis on nature as a motif and the practice of using mixed metals in the creation of decorative arts. The carefully rendered insects and birds and the geometric borders on these butter plates borrow heavily from Japanese art.