Tableware is the dishes or dishware (ceramic), dinnerware (ceramics and other materials), or china (porcelain) used for setting a table, serving food, and for dining. Tableware can be meant to include flatware and glassware
This list of glassware includes drinking vessels , tableware, such as dishes, and flatware used to set a table for eating a meal, general glass items such as vases, and glasses used in the catering industry whether made of glass or plastics such as polystyrene and...

. The nature, variety, and number of objects varies from culture to culture, religions, and cuisines.

In Britain and in the United States, tableware is most commonly referred to as dinnerware. Dinnerware can be meant to include glassware, however not flatware. In Britain, the term crockery is sometimes used for ceramic dishes. In the USA, ceramic dinnerware, whether made of porcelain or earthenware, is often referred to as china. Sets of dishes are often referred to as a table service or service set. Table setting
Table setting
Table setting or place setting refers to the way to set a table with tableware—such as eating utensils and dishes for serving and eating. The arrangement for a single diner is called a place setting...

s or place settings are the dishes, flatware (cutlery), and glassware used by an individual for formal and informal dining. In the United Kingdom, silver service
Silver Service
The Silver Service is a brand currently applied by Amtrak to two of its East Coast long-distance passenger trains operating between New York City and Miami:*Silver Meteor*Silver Star...

 or butler service are names of methods for serving a meal.


The first known use of the term tableware was in 1766, dinnerware in 1895, and dishware in 1946.

Dining culture in the United States

In 1880, Victorianism
Victorianism is the name given to the attitudes, art, and culture of the later two-thirds of the 19th century. This usage is strong within social history and the study of literature, less so in philosophy. Many disciplines do not use the term, but instead prefer Victorian Era, or simply "Late 19th...

 had established itself in the United States, with middle class
Middle class
The middle class is any class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. In Weberian socio-economic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class....

 Americans enjoying the materialism
Economic materialism
Materialism is a mindset that views the consumption and acquisition of material goods as positive and desirable. It is often bound up with a value system which regards social status as being intrinsically linked to affluence as well as the perception that happiness can be increased through...

 and consumption of goods to express their identities. The dining room
Dining room
A dining room is a room for consuming food. In modern times it is usually adjacent to the kitchen for convenience in serving, although in medieval times it was often on an entirely different floor level...

 or dining parlor, which had been in upper class
Upper class
In social science, the "upper class" is the group of people at the top of a social hierarchy. Members of an upper class may have great power over the allocation of resources and governmental policy in their area.- Historical meaning :...

 houses since the colonial period of American history, became more common in middle-class homes. Dining became a social event with various food dishes
Dish (food)
A dish in gastronomy is a specific food preparation, a "distinct article or variety of food", with cooking finished, and ready to eat, or be served.A "dish" may be served on dishware, or may be eaten out of hand; but breads are generally not called "dishes"....

 being served with various manufactured tableware shapes. "The tools used for social dining changed dramatically over time, reflecting both changes in social life and the development of a tableware "fashion system." The manufacturers and marketers of china and glass wanted to sell more goods, the authors and publishers of books on entertaining sought to sell more copies; and the editors of tastemaking magazines pursued greater circulation and advertising revenues. They made table setting a distinctive fashion system of its own."

From 1920 to 1945, the United States saw the onset of casual dining as processed foods and changing food habits appeared. Women spent less time cooking. Casserole
A casserole, from the French for "saucepan", is a large, deep dish used both in the oven and as a serving vessel. The word casserole is also used for the food cooked and served in such a vessel, with the cookware itself called a casserole dish or casserole pan...

s, food dishes made with canned soups, etc., became popular and tableware makers added a new dish, the casserole dish, to their products lines. "Under the new regime of simplicity the well set table displayed the least number of pieces possible."

From 1945, after World War II, to 1960, the kitchen, no longer limited to the place where food was prepared, became a place to entertain and to dine with family and friends. Dinnerware sets were more informal in style, although a formal set of dinnerware or china was used for special occasions. After the 1960s until the 1980s, the formal dinner party returned as a "wave of gourmet culture" swept the United States with the introduction of Julia Child
Julia Child
Julia Child was an American chef, author, and television personality. She is recognized for introducing French cuisine to the American public with her debut cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and her subsequent television programs, the most notable of which was The French Chef, which...

's television program, Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a two-volume French cookbook written by Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, both of France, and Julia Child of the United States...

. However, the excess of Victorianism was replaced by simplicity in the number of shapes and pieces used for dining.


Dishes are usually made of ceramic materials such as earthenware
Earthenware is a common ceramic material, which is used extensively for pottery tableware and decorative objects.-Types of earthenware:Although body formulations vary between countries and even between individual makers, a generic composition is 25% ball clay, 28% kaolin, 32% quartz, and 15%...

, stoneware
Stoneware is a vitreous or semi-vitreous ceramic ware with a fine texture. Stoneware is made from clay that is then fired in a kiln, whether by an artisan to make homeware, or in an industrial kiln for mass-produced or specialty products...

, or porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

, however can be made of other materials such as wood
Wood is a hard, fibrous tissue found in many trees. It has been used for hundreds of thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression...

, pewter
Pewter is a malleable metal alloy, traditionally 85–99% tin, with the remainder consisting of copper, antimony, bismuth and lead. Copper and antimony act as hardeners while lead is common in the lower grades of pewter, which have a bluish tint. It has a low melting point, around 170–230 °C ,...

, silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

, gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

, acrylic
Acrylic may refer to:Chemicals and materials:* Chemical compounds that contain the acryl group derived from acrylic acid* Acrylic fiber, a synthetic polymer fiber that contains at least 85% acrylonitrile...

, and plastic
A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce production costs...

. Dishes are purchased either by the piece or by set which include either four, eight, or twelve place settings.


Place setting dishes
  • Plates
    Plate (dishware)
    A plate is a broad, concave, but mainly flat vessel on which food can be served. A plate can also be used for ceremonial or decorative purposes.-Materials:...

    , such as service plates
    Charger (table setting)
    Charger plates or service plates are larger decorative plates used to dress up dinner tables at parties, weddings, and other special events. While the charger plates have been around since the 19th century, they returned to popularity in the late `90s. Since food is not actually served on chargers,...

    , dinner plates, lunch plates, desert plates, salad plates, or bread plates
  • Bowl
    Bowl (vessel)
    A bowl is a common open-top container used in many cultures to serve food, and is also used for drinking and storing other items. They are typically small and shallow, although some, such as punch bowls and salad bowls, are larger and often intended to serve many people.Bowls have existed for...

    s, including soup bowls, cereal bowls, fruit bowls, cream soups, or dessert bowls
  • Individual covered casseroles or covered soups
  • Teacup
    A teacup is a small cup, with or without a handle, generally a small one that may be grasped with the thumb and one or two fingers. It is typically made of a ceramic material. It is usually part of a set, composed of a cup and a matching saucer. These in turn may be part of a tea set in...

    s, coffeecups, and Demitasse
    A demitasse is a small cup used to serve Arabic coffee or espresso. In some languages it is called fincan, fildžan, filxhan or φλιτζάνι . In Spanish, it is called a pocillo....

  • Saucer
    A saucer is a small type of dishware, a plate that is specifically used with and for supporting a cup – a cylindrical cup intended for coffee or a half-sphere teacup for tea. Additionally, the saucer is a distant cousin to the plate. The saucer has a raised centre with a depression sized to fit a...

    s, including teacup saucers, coffeecup saucers, demitasse saucers, and cream soup saucers.
  • Mug
    A mug is a sturdily built type of cup often used for drinking hot beverages, such as coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Mugs, by definition, have handles and often hold a larger amount of fluid than other types of cup. Usually a mug holds approximately 12 fluid ounces of liquid; double a tea cup...

    s, coffee or tea mugs, and chocolate mugs.

Serving dishes
  • Salt and pepper shakers
    Salt and pepper shakers
    The salt shaker and pepper shaker are condiment holders used in Western culture that are designed to allow diners to distribute edible salt and ground peppercorns.Salt and pepper shakers are often held in a cruet-stand.- Usage :...

    , salt cellar
    Salt cellar
    A salt cellar is a vessel, usually small and made of glass or silver, used on the table for holding salt. An individual salt dish or squat open salt cellar placed near a trencher was called a trencher salt...

  • Sugar bowl
    Sugar bowl (dishware)
    A sugar bowl is a small bowl designed for holding sugar or sugar cubes, to be served with tea or coffee in the Western tradition, that is an integral part of a tea set.- Notable sugar bowls :...

     and creamer
    Creamer (crockery)
    A creamer is a small pitcher or jug designed for holding cream or milk to be served with tea or coffee in the Western tradition. Creamers can be earthenware or porcelain, but also made of silver or other metals; a creamer is an obligatory part of a coffee or tea set, whether in silver or...

  • Teapot
    A teapot is a vessel used for steeping tea leaves or a herbal mix in near-boiling water. Tea may be either in a tea bag or loose, in which case a tea strainer will be needed, either to hold the leaves as they steep or to catch the leaves inside the teapot when the tea is poured...

    , coffeepot
  • Butter dish
  • Pitchers
    Pitcher (container)
    A pitcher is a container with a spout used for storing and pouring contents which are liquid in form. Generally a pitcher also has a handle, which makes pouring easier.A ewer is a vase-shaped pitcher, often decorated, with a base and a flaring spout...

     or Jugs
    Jug (container)
    A jug is a type of container used to hold liquid. It has an opening, often narrow, from which to pour or drink, and nearly always has a handle. One could imagine a jug being made from nearly any watertight material, but most jugs throughout history have been made from clay, glass, or plastic...

    : water, milk, juice, and syrup
  • Serving bowls including vegetable bowls and salad bowls
  • Casserole
    A casserole, from the French for "saucepan", is a large, deep dish used both in the oven and as a serving vessel. The word casserole is also used for the food cooked and served in such a vessel, with the cookware itself called a casserole dish or casserole pan...

    s or lidded serving bowls
  • Sauce boat
    Sauce boat
    A sauce boat, gravy boat or saucière is a boat-shaped pitcher in which sauce or gravy is served. It often sits on a matching plate, sometimes attached to the pitcher, to catch dripping sauce....

  • Platter
    Platter (dishware)
    A platter is a large type of dishware used for serving food. It is a tray on which food is displayed and served to people. It can have oval, round, rectangular, or square shape. It can be made of metal, ceramic, or plastic. Plain and ornate platters suitable for more formal settings or occasions...

    s including chop plates, salver
    A salver is a flat tray of silver or other metal used for carrying or serving glasses, cups and dishes at table or for the presenting of a letter or card by a servant...

    s, and tray
    A tray is a shallow platform designed for carrying things. It is larger than a salver, a diminutive version commonly used for lighter and smaller servings, and it can be fashioned from numerous materials, including silver, brass, sheet iron, wood, melamine, and papier-mâché...

  • Compotes
  • Tureen
    A tureen is a serving dish for foods such as soups or stews, often shaped as a broad, deep, oval vessel with fixed handles and a low domed cover with a knob or handle. Over the centuries, tureens have appeared in many different forms, some round, rectangular, or made into fanciful shapes such as...

  • Tajine
    A tajine, or tagine , is a dish from North Africa, that is named after the special earthenware pot in which it is cooked. A similar dish, known as tavvas, is found in the cuisine of Cyprus. The traditional tajine pot is formed entirely of a heavy clay, which is sometimes painted or glazed...

Notable designers

  • Clarice Cliff
    Clarice Cliff
    Clarice Cliff was an English ceramic industrial artist active from 1922 to 1963.Cliff was born in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, England.- Early life :...

    , Britain
  • Susie Cooper
    Susie Cooper
    Susie Cooper was a prolific English ceramic designer working in the Stoke-on-Trent pottery industries from the 1920s to the 1980s.-Life and work:Born in Stanfields, Stoke-on-Trent, she was the youngest of seven children...

    , Britain
  • Rupert Deese
    Rupert Deese
    Rupert Deese was an American ceramic artist. He is known for innovative design and decoration of high fired ceramics...

    , USA Franciscan Ceramics
    Franciscan Ceramics
    Franciscan Ceramics are ceramic tabletop and tile products produced by Gladding, McBean & Co. in Los Angeles, California from 1934–1962, International Pipe and Ceramics from 1962–1979, and Wedgwood from 1979-1983. Wedgwood closed the Los Angeles plant, and moved the production of dinnerware to...

  • Edith Heath
    Edith Heath
    Edith Kiertzner Heath was a American studio potter "but soon became involved in the design and production of pottery and tableware on a far larger scale than that of most studio potters." In 1948, Edith founded Heath Ceramics...

    , USA
  • Raymond Loewy
    Raymond Loewy
    Raymond Loewy was an industrial designer, and the first to be featured on the cover of Time Magazine, on October 31, 1949. Born in France, he spent most of his professional career in the United States...

    , USA
  • Frederick Hurten Rhead
    Frederick Hurten Rhead
    Frederick Hurten Rhead was a native of England who worked as a potter in the United States for most of his career. In addition to teaching pottery techniques, Rhead was highly influential in both studio and commercial pottery...

    , Homer Laughlin
    Homer Laughlin
    Homer Laughlin born 23 March, 1843 in Little Beaver, Ohio, was an American businessman and potter who, with his brother Shakespeare, formed the Laughlin Pottery Company in 1871 in East Liverpool, Ohio....

  • Ben Siebel, USA Iroquois China

  • Timo Sarpaneva
    Timo Sarpaneva
    Timo Sarpaneva was an influential Finnish designer, sculptor, and educator best known in the art world for innovative work in glass, which often merged attributes of display art objects with utilitarian designations. While glass remained his most commonly addressed medium, he worked with metal,...

    , Finland
  • Dorothy Thorpe, USA
  • Bjorn Wiinblad, Denmark
    Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

    , Rosenthal Porcelain Manufacturer
  • Susan Williams-Ellis
    Susan Williams-Ellis
    Susan Williams-Ellis , a pottery designer and the eldest daughter of Clough Williams-Ellis, was best known for co-founding Portmeirion Pottery.-Background:...

    , Britain Portmeirion Pottery
    Portmeirion Pottery
    Portmeirion is a British pottery company based in Stoke-on-Trent.-History:Portmeirion Pottery came into being in 1960 when the pottery designer Susan Williams-Ellis and her husband, Euan Cooper-Willis took over a small pottery decorating company in Stoke-on-Trent called A. E. Gray Ltd.. Susan...

  • Tapio Wirkkala
    Tapio Wirkkala
    File:Wirkkala.jpgTapio Wirkkala was a Finnish designer and sculptor, a major figure of post-war design. His work ranges from plastic ketchup bottles and metalware to glass, ceramics and plywood in a range of styles. He designed the Finnish markka banknotes introduced in 1955...

    , Finland
    Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

  • Russel Wright
    Russel Wright
    Russel Wright was an American Industrial designer during the 20th century. Beginning in the late 1920s through the 1960s, Russel Wright created a succession of artistically distinctive and commercially successful items that helped bring modern design to the general public.-Designer:Russel...

    , USA Iroquois China and Steubenville China
  • Eva Zeisel
    Eva Zeisel
    Eva Striker Zeisel is a Hungarian-born industrial designer known for her work with ceramics, primarily from the period after she immigrated to the United States. Her forms are often abstractions of the natural world and human relationships...

    , USA, Hall China, Red Wing Pottery
    Red Wing Pottery
    Red Wing pottery refers to American stoneware, pottery, or dinnerware items made by any of various companies in Red Wing, Minnesota. The first known pottery was established in the late 1870s and production continued under various company names until the last business, Red Wing Potteries, Inc.,...

     and Castleton China


  • Castleton China, USA
  • Faiencerie de Gien, France
  • Fitz And Floyd, USA
  • Hadley Pottery, USA

  • Iroquois China, USA
  • Kütahya Porselen, Turkey
  • Rosenthal AG, Germany
  • Steubenville China, USA


  • Anchor Hocking
    Anchor Hocking
    Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation is a manufacturer of glassware. The Hocking Glass Company was founded in 1905 by Isaac Jacob Collins. That company merged with the AnchorCap and Closure Corporations in 1937. Anchor Hocking is primarily located in Lancaster, Ohio...

    , USA
  • Baccarat
    Baccarat (company)
    Baccarat Crystal is a manufacturer of fine crystal glassware located in Baccarat, France. The company owns two museums: the Musée Baccarat in Baccarat, Meurthe-et-Moselle and the Galerie-Musée Baccarat, on the Place des États-Unis in Paris...

    , France
  • Christofle
    Christofle is a manufacturer of fine silver flatware and home accessories based in France since 1830. They are renowned for their sterling, silverplate and stainless flatware. Among Christofle's product lines are silver picture frames, crystal vases and glassware, porcelain dinnerware and silver...

    , France

  • Corning
    Corelle is a brand of glassware and dishware. It is made of Vitrelle, a laminated tempered glass product with three layers of two types of glass. The thermally bonded layers give Corelle its strength, allowing it to be much thinner than other dinnerware. Introduced by Corning Glass Works in 1970,...

    , USA
  • Kosta Boda, Sweden
  • Waterford Crystal
    Waterford Crystal
    Waterford Crystal is a trademark brand of crystal glassware, previously produced in Waterford, Ireland, though the factory there was shut down after the receivership of Waterford Wedgwood plc in early 2009...

    , Britain


Collections in museums

  • Porcelain and faience museum in Zurich
    Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

  • Dallas Museum of Art
    Dallas Museum of Art
    The Dallas Museum of Art is a major art museum located in the Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas, USA, along Woodall Rodgers Freeway between St. Paul and Harwood. In 1984, the museum moved from its previous location in Fair Park to the Arts District, Dallas, Texas...

Further reading

Von Drachenfels, Suzanne. The Art of the Table: A Complete Guide to Table Setting, Table Manners, and Tableware. Simon & Schuster (2000) ISBN 0684847329
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