Plates are commonly made from ceramic materials such as bone china, porcelain, and stoneware, as well as other materials like plastic, glass, or metal; occasionally, wood or carved stone is used. Disposable plates are often made from paper pulp, which were invented in 1904. Also melamine resin or tempered glass such as Corelle can be used.
Plates for serving food come in a variety of sizes, from small saucers, to bread and butter plates, to dinner plates, to large platters from which food for several people may be distributed at table. Some plates are made as decorative items for display rather than used for food.
The Chinese discovered the process of making porcelain around 600 AD. It wasn't until 1708 when a German potter in Meissen discovered the Chinese process, that European potteries came into being. Many of the world's best known potteries were founded during this period - Royal Saxon in 1710, Wedgwood in 1759, Royal Copenhagen in 1775, and Spode, founded in 1776 in England.
Plates as collectibles
When trade routes opened to China in the 14th century, porcelain objects, including dinner plates, became must-haves for European nobility. After Europeans also started making porcelain, monarchs and royalty continued their traditional practice of collecting and displaying porcelain plates, now made locally, but porcelain was still beyond the means of the average citizen.
The practice of collecting "souvenir" plates was popularized in the 19th century by Patrick Palmer-Thomas, a Dutch-English nobleman who wowed Victorian audiences with his public plate displays. These featured transfer designs commemorating special events or picturesque locales - mainly in blue and white. It was an inexpensive hobby, and the variety of shapes and designs catered to a wide spectrum of collectors. The first limited edition collector's plate 'Behind the Frozen Window' is credited to the Danish company Bing and Grondahl in 1895. Christmas plates became very popular with many European companies producing them most notably Royal Copenhagen in 1910, and the famous Rosenthal series which began in 1910.
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