what is this unusual piece of a dinnerware set

Waukegan, IL(Zone 5a)

I have been trying for years to find out what the purpose of this piece was. It is 4 inches wide and there is one for every place setting. The pattern is Briar Rose by Pope Gosser. I bought the set with 100 pieces for $25 in the 1970's. I found a picture of this piece in an online publication about the history of the Pope Gosser company but the only description was "square dish with raised square hold". Hold what? That's my question. The hole is too small and shallow to safely hold a candle, even the tiny tapers. It looks like it could possibly have been for a cigarette. But that would mean the cigarette would be sticking straight up - seems odd. A few of the pieces are badly crazed like maybe cigarettes had been stubbed out in them. Maybe in the 1920's everybody would have been smoking at the dinner table?? Has anyone seen these before and does anyone know what they are?

Thumbnail by chris_h
Sherrie In, NH(Zone 5a)

Would a womans thumb fit in it? Could it be a finger hold? Someone will come along and tell you.


I would guess that it is a candle holder. It might be a salt dip. Crazing is normally physical stress within the given piece. It is thought to be caused by glazes to far physically removed from the make up of the slip used in making the plate form. Improper firing is possible but not nearly as suspect as materials that do not work well together.

Not as nice is the fact that there have been many reproductions in crockery like this piece. The originals have become quite pricy. This encourages cheap reproductions using less quality materials. Crazing like this can be reproduced in crockery to make it look old. The only way to be absolutely sure it is old would be to have it side by side with known proven old plates of this type. Experts of course can see reproductions at a glance.

When faced with a situation like this I assume reproduction until proven otherwise. There is a horrific reproduction industry out there. Sometimes I go with auction price levels. If known quality dealers are bidding it up I know then that one bid over their level is a good price to pay....unless I think they are playing with my brains or lack of real knowledge. They normally hope to double their buy price for resale. They will normally stop bidding at about that level or even less.

Your set of that pattern is beautiful. Enjoy it. Incidently the reproduction thing has been around since time began. I use some of them in my home but I sure would not pay for originals and put them into daily use excepting very special occasions. I sometimes use eBay reference for a self check.

This message was edited May 3, 2008 10:52 AM

Athens, PA


If you go onto ebay, under the community tab, there are discussions by category that may be helpful. Check out the link to those forums: http://forums.ebay.com/db2/forum.jspa?forumID=75

If you do not do well there, you take the plate to an antique dealer or an auctioneer, odds are they would be able to tell you what the square knob on this plate is for. They may charge you for this service.

Let us know what it is when you find out - I too am curious.


Waukegan, IL(Zone 5a)

Although I know nothing about china, I have never felt that this set was fine china because it it quite lightweight and and has a dull sound when you tap it - like the sound of a clay flowerpot. I don't even know if that makes sense but I had a few pieces of Lenox china received as wedding presents and they make a clearer sound when you tap them and also seem harder somehow (or denser if you know what I mean) so I thought that might be an indication of something.

When the Google age hit I checked the name marked on the dishes and found the Pope Gosser information. I found pictures of many of the pieces I have. The idea of the set being a reproduction makes sense. I bought this set because it was so pretty and at that time of my life even $25 was about all I could afford. A whole set of pretty dinnerware for $25 - I was thrilled. And I still like it, so I guess it's okay with me if it's a reproduction. It looks very pretty when I set the table with it.

Just the other day I did find a website that listed some pieces for sale and one item listed was an ashtray. But there was no picture or description so I don't know if that could be the piece I have or not.

I will let you all know if I ever find out for sure what it is.



You do pretty good giving me or others clues. Yes it is lovely relatively inexpensive, most likely reproduction. All the clues indicate such. Even if it is not the fact you captured it so inexpensively is also a clue.

I am a guy with a bit of antique center experience working out of a co-op. If I had that set now and wanted to offer it I would sell pieces asking an average of twenty bucks and would take a little less they all expect in the deal. I think that set would bring a good bit more today than you paid for it in auction. Most anyone would pay $15 - $17 for one or two missing pieces to refill their sets. It really does not matter within reason in a situation like that.
I've worked with an outlet for about ten years. I grew up in the industry. I know just about enough to get myself in trouble because I really like the old stuff. We tell people we were ordained to keep it because not just anyone would. :) Our main interests were antique dolls from 1920 back to 1500. Dolls we do know a great deal about.

Fenton, MI(Zone 5b)

If an ashtray could it have held match sticks? Or as suggested salt , as in a bread dish with a salter
included? The plate does seem the size of a bread dish. My 2 cents would be salt!
I don't think any manufacturer of pottery or china made Table side ashtrays!! that piece absolutely looks old.
I soak my dishes in a 10% solution or up to 25% as necessary of bleach! it will clean them right up!!
Try it!


As an old antiquer I cringe when anyone suggests using bleach to make the old look new. Using anything to make the patina go away is not good advise.
If there is anything more than relatively inexpensive china involved here such action will wipe away the value in one swift instance. Do not clean that set up until it is absolutely known that it is not a real high interest collectors item. Just for the love of age signs I would not clean any collectors china or pottery set up ever!

An occasional soaking in just plain water is good advise. Using them in most instances only keeps the dishware on the top of the stack hydrated.

Fenton, MI(Zone 5b)

I understand your preference NOT to use a diluted water bath with bleach but you can not in good health Use a set of dishes which has 'crazing' of the glaze and a dark (you can call it 'Patina') I call it disgusting food or aged dirt debris embedded in the crockery itself!!! You can display them, hang them, sell them...BUT DON"T EAT OFF THEM!!! I have rarely had so expensive an antique plate that was to be harmed by cleaning the surface. Perhaps you have and of course there are instances when the value would be diminished but here the plate can be seen to be NOT in the RARE category and also in it's 'crazed' condition it is already
devalued some!! I had an opinion based on seeing the piece. You made a different judgement...
Did you look at her picture?? Sorry to say so but based on her picture I stand on MY information. I
have been buying and selling for 30+ years. Her piece though attractive and different is not an
expensive or highly valued piece.


Jazzy.............You are right and you are also just about all wrong. Apparently you went clear outside of context of my last post. My post calls attention to the fact that the value of this set is truly not known. You will find no informed collector or antiquer that would agree with your reasoning unless you absolutely appraise this set and professionally stand on the grounds that it is of little or no value. Even then the water is not diluted. When a chemical is added the chemical is being diluted by the water. Water is H2O4. Your suggested chemical has numbers that increase the elements of water not dilutes the chemistry of water.
......Being a seller for thirty years buys me nothing but perhaps a little more experience in the field than some others. I have also met young kids that are absoultely wizzards in the field making me look like a beginner. Good judgement and gentle advise is always right. Apparently you did not read my very first post where I absoutely said I did not think this was a high value set...but I do not know. What I do know is that if china or crockery dinnerware is soaked one should read the antique how to advisements and follow them instead of those who walked before us burning up all kinds of antiques with the wrong bleaches and other witches brews.
.......Furthermore I know of not a soul who would appraise from a picture on the internet. From quality film based photography for a begining opinion may be OK. The final decisions are made I'm sure you will agree by proven experts who will not consider apraising without having the item in hand. Sometimes even they get fooled usually however at that level by a crook in their own image and at their own level.

Fenton, MI(Zone 5b)

Well i think it's enough said!

Waukegan, IL(Zone 5a)

Your discussion of crazing got me curious so I took a closer look at other pieces of the set. Almost all pieces (plates, bowls, platters etc.) are crazed but clean. Oddly, the only pieces that don't seem to be crazed are the cups. I would have expected them to be crazed since they are used for hot liquids.
I don't use the little mystery pieces for food (or anything for that matter) so I don't have to worry about the grungy crazing on those. A couple of them have very badly discolored crazing (worse than the one in the photo) which is why I have this picture in my mind of someone stubbing out a cigarette. Also, the piece in my picture is small, only 4 inches across. It is too small for a bread plate (and too large for salt, I think). The little hole in the raised square is very small, about one quarter inch across. I'm really surprised that I could not find it identified on the internet. I thought I could find everything on the web! I'm going to try looking again and maybe when I get the time I'll go around to some serious antique stores and see if anyone has ever seen this piece before.

Just in case anyone might be interested I've posted a picture of the teapot from the set. It is crazed all over and with slight discoloring of the crazing inside but I expect that's from tea. It's cute isn't it?

Thumbnail by chris_h
Fenton, MI(Zone 5b)

OK not to ruffle docgipes feathers. this set has a decal. the decals were put on plain stoneware set
to give it some beauty like the more expensive hand painted pieces woman would have envied.
But of course it was meant for a mass market hence the decal use. Also a good sign of high quality ware is the design, the exactness in the detail and the colors and wear. This piece has uneven heavy-light painted green border ( in some areas thicker in others) The green colored border too is lighter and darker and has some chips? or little cream colored areas where the paint is missing.
It is pretty none the less and Yes you need to pursue the make and auction and or retail price of the set.
Good luck.


Frankly I would not waste a dime pursuit of appraisal. To my way of thinking that would be waste of the collector's dollar. We now have the owner and two others believing it is not a set of high value. Enjoy it. That was the original purpose in the first place.

Reading collector books and doing that kind or research is fun. Throwing it out to a forum like this sometimes produces exciting results. Sometimes we even have the correct advisements available for the poster.

Waukegan, IL(Zone 5a)

Well, I'm glad my dishes can't hear you talking about them, poor little things I'm just going to let them think they're the real thing.

As for me, I actually feel kind of happy that they're not valuable - I won't be tense when I'm using them. I'd still like to know what that mysterious piece is.

Thanks for all the interesting information.

Fenton, MI(Zone 5b)

They ARE valuable...TO YOU!! Value is NOT REAL it is supposed based on what people HAVE paid. It is only in SELLING them can you determine the VALUE of these. That is unless YOU assess a value out of
a fondness for them. But yes they won't sell for 1000.00 but i don't know what they would sell for!!
I would look to write down what you have in pieces and go online or to shops and get an idea of OFFERS to purchase. You can double that sometimes triple !! For an independent sale price.

Desoto, TX(Zone 8a)

No matter the age or quality of any product anywhere, it is only worth what someone is willing to pay. Other than the price of gasoline the market pretty much sets the price. As Jazzy says in so many words, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have many articles that not only could I NOT get a dime, I WOULD NOT sell for any amount.


Waukegan, IL(Zone 5a)

I agree. Most of my favorite "things" have little or no resale value but I get enjoyment from them every time I look at them.

Scotia, CA(Zone 9b)

I have no idea if my grandmother was correct in her use of a similar style of small dishes I remember as a child but she called hers biscuit plates and said the raised piece was a knife rest to prevent the butter knife from soiling the table linen.


I have attended hundreds of estate sales which in this area "average" about three thousand dollars gross. Each and every one of them has an old grandmas something two or three items that sell at prices that even amazes dealers. The old dealers advise to attic, garage, shop and basement squirrels is don't throw away anything. Let the auctioneers find the real value levels. That is their job selling on commission agreement while knowing how to attract the right buyers for anything of value.

In my savings there are hundreds of items that will bring an average of five to ten bucks a pop. If I had a barn full with thousands of items the gross could get financially exciting. When we got out of the collectables and antiques business we let the local auctioneer have his fun. I did not even go to the sale. Stuff.........just plain stuff I paid a hundred bucks for brought five or ten dollars while other stuff went the other way. The net was very intersting after a twenty year savings of the best stuff.....just because we thought it was worth a fortune. Harr Harr. Well we figure we were ordained to be keepers of the stuff. :))

We still have the disease but it is reasonably well under control. But then why is my garage some how filling up again?

Paris, IL(Zone 6a)

I was thinking knife rest. As Zanymuse suggested, a biscuit plate would sound appropriate. Drippings from the knife, if any, would pool in the hole.

Cheap or expensive? I haven't a clue. I think the novelty of it would add to the value whether it was cheaply or expensively made. One doesn't see such a good pre-planned idea incorporated on today's tableware.


Norristown, PA(Zone 6b)

Chris, Some manufacturers did make matching ashtrays to china sets. I've never seen a set for resale come with more than one or two of them.

If you send a photocopy of your piece along with as much info as possible into Replacements, LTD, they can most likely ID it for you. For that matter, you can go right onto their website. Type in Pope Gosser. They will have photos of most of the patterns. Click on your pattern and maybe a category for this piece will be there. If it's not listed under your pattern, look under other Pope Gosser patterns. The odds are they made this piece for several of their patterns.

If you can't locate it on their website, call them and they will tell you where to fax the photocopy.


Finally a complete, correct and workable offering of instructions. Thanks.

Waukegan, IL(Zone 5a)

I don't know if you noticed above but I did find a picture of the mystery item on a website with a book about the history of Pope Gosser china. It was my exact piece but they it did not say what it was for, just "square dish with raised square hold". It was even badly crazed like mine are - much worse than the other dishes in the set. It's helpful to learn that there were matching ashtrays made for china sets because that's what it looks like to me.

Desoto, TX(Zone 8a)

I was in Sur Le Table recently and asked her if she had ever seen such a dish. She had not but thought it was most probably a salt dish. Still no positive id.


Norristown, PA(Zone 6b)

Lou, Salt dishes usually are mini bowls, to enable you to put your fingers into the mix and take a pinch. I don't see how this item would serve that purpose.

Chris, If you want a true ID, it's worth taking the time to contact replacements. They have always been very helpful to me. They've seen more dishes than just about anybody.

Considering the concept of Hold, I've often seen that term used in 2 ways. One is for an appendage enabling a person to hold the item. The other fashion is what I think they mean in this case, where an affixed appendage is designed to hold something.

It could hold a cigarette, but I've never seen an ashtray where the cigarettes are held upside down. As it burned lower, you wouldn't be able to pick it up. It could possibly be to have a cigarette placed at the table as an offering to whomever wanted one, but I find that unlikely.

Even though cigarette smoking was quite vogue in the past, I've never seen any evidence of anyone setting a table with one at every place. At one time I had an extensive collection of photos and drawings and even an encyclopedia of table settings. I'm quite sure this would have been offensive to some guests.You would often read of people adjourning to other rooms to smoke, especially men.

The victorians were incredibly imaginative in designing table utensils for the most limited uses. Terrapin, pickle, olive, lemon, lettuce, potato forks.

If a guess would be good enough, I think that gk1153 is more likely right. I don't think the hold was designed to catch butter or jam drippings, but the plate is the right size for a biscuit or roll and the hold could be a butter knife rest that would actually serve as a good scraping devise for reusing the knife to scoop butter or jam.

Norristown, PA(Zone 6b)

Chris, I also wanted to add that the plates 4" size, while small for today's bread plate usage would not necessarily exclude it from that purpose long ago. Don't forget that they often used the word biscuit to refer to crackers. A sterling cracker scoop, while being a slightly enlarged serving spoon was meant to scoop up small biscuits (crackers), often round home made ones the size of southern cheese snaps or bene wafers. Dinner rolls and biscuits of that era were often less than 3" across.

It's size also is similar to that of a tidbit tray, precursor to today's Hors D'ourves plate. If the appendage was designed to enable one to hold the plate, then it could very well be a tidbit tray for use during the cocktail hour.

Citra, FL(Zone 9a)

Sweet little thing, patina or dirt, and my first thought was knife rest or a place for a pat of butter or a spoon of jam (both?) I like stormyla's idea of a tidbit plate for cocktail hour. If it were an ashtray, there would be an indentation for the cigerette. Perhaps, if a tidbit tray, for used cocktail picks? They were made of glass and reusuable, or is that too small?

I hope you post when you find out.

Deland, FL & Hot Spr, AR

For what it's worth I will throw in my 2 cents. I collect salt dips and have never seen anything resembling your plate pictured in any of my books, so I think salt dip is out and biscuit/cracker plate is more on the order of yours. As some have stated above, enjoy your plates and perhaps Replacements can give you an answer. Wish I could be of more help.

Ellenboro, NC(Zone 7b)

MAYBE its a spot where something else attatched to the plate,,,, like a peg hole that held another piece to the puzzle!!

Waukegan, IL(Zone 5a)

We've had a lot of events this summer and I have just a few peaceful moments right now so I sat down to visit dave's garden.

I did contact replacements but have not received any information from them so far.

The dish seems a bit small for any food to me. It is just an inch wider than the palm of my hand. Seems small even for a biscuit. And the "raised square hold" is 1/4 inch wide and 1/4 inch deep. What can it possibly "hold"?

I am amazed that I haven't been able to find anyone anywhere who knows what the heck it is.

Maybe this winter I'll start taking it around to antique shops and see if I can find anyone who recognizes it.

Scotia, CA(Zone 9b)

This site's pdf file just calls it a

Square plate with raised
square hold W4

(Terri ) South Bosto, VA(Zone 7a)

I'm wondering if this is a butter pat dish? I've seen small round handled two pronged forks in antique stores, maybe the fork went upright in the hole?

Bolivar, TN(Zone 7a)

Could it be a dish for donuits? After all, a donut would fit.

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

I put my cigs out in a similar shaped snuffer. Drop in and it goes out almost immediately. No smoldering butts.

That said, I have a hard time believing that smoking was popular enough to warrant making them in the pattern of the dishes.

Norwood, MA(Zone 6a)

Looks like it might be made by Home Laughlin. Any markings on the bottom?

Waukegan, IL(Zone 5a)

The markings say Briar Rose, Pope Gosser but the knowledgeable people who have posted here have said the dishes are probably an inexpensive reproduction which seems true because they really don't have the feel of fine china to me. But I don't care about that as I bought the set of 100 pieces for $25 in the 1970's and have no interest in selling it.

But it is driving me crazy that I cannot find anyone who knows for sure what the purpose of the little piece (see photo above) is. I have used the Replacements Ltd. website twice to seek information about this piece. I included a picture. Both times after a few months passed I got an automatically generated email saying my email had been deleted without being opened.

Someday someone is going to see that picture and say "I know what it is. My Great Grandmother had that same thing in her set and it was used for .........."

Thanks for all the ideas.

Thumbnail by chris_h
Desoto, TX(Zone 8a)

have you been to Kovels.com?

Waukegan, IL(Zone 5a)

I have never heard of Kovels but I'll check it out for sure. Thanks.

L.A. (Canoga Park), CA(Zone 10a)

I'd think that if the hole was meant to hold butter or jelly or something like that, the sides would be more tapered, not straight vertical. The hole itself lacks the same aesthetics as the rest of the plate, as if the hole was not meant to be seen. To me it looks like maybe some post goes in there to hold another plate above this one, to make a two-tiered plate. Just a wild guess, but that's the first thing I thought of.

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or register to post.

Upload Images to your reply

    You may upload up to 5 images