You come across the term everywhere. The china place setting. You see it on Ebay, Google, websites, information sites etc. etc. Have you ever wondered what it means, which pieces are included? Sure you have. Have you ever BOUGHT a “place setting” mistakenly expecting one thing and received another? Oops, you don't have to raise your hand, but we know you're out there. 🙂
The truth is that quality sites will always enumerate which pieces are meant by the “place setting” to avoid misunderstanding, see Lenox Hancock for example.
Although when there is uncertainty it is best to contact the seller before you buy to make sure that you've got it right, there are some industry-standard definitions to the most common place settings that may be of help. NOTE: Do not rely on the photo to tell you what you are getting, they are often just stock photos to show you the pattern without indicating exactly which pieces you are purchasing.
The standard “five piece place setting” consists of the following five pieces: Dinner, Salad & Bread & Butter Plates, Teacup, Tea Saucer (the cup and saucer are considered two separate pieces, which by the way, they are, even though they make up a set ;). See Lenox Brookdale for an example.
The standard “four piece place setting” consists of the following four pieces: Dinner, Salad & Bread and Butter plates and the mug. Occasionally, the soup bowl is the fourth piece instead of the mug.
What you also need to know is which type of pieces are in the place setting. This mostly applies to the tea cup or the soup bowl which feature significant variations. For example, now you know that the 5 piece place setting contains a tea cup and saucer, but you may not be aware that there are two types of teacups made in some patterns (leigh or peony for example). Is yours one of them? Find out, and if yes, choose the one you need. One of them might even be discontinued so check it out before you purchase. See Lenox Montclair for an example.
Soup bowls come rimmed and coupe (without a rim). Make sure you are getting the type you need before you order. See Wedgwood Osborne for a picture of a “rimmed” soup bowl and Lenox Versailles for a picture of a “coupe” soup bowl.
It's pretty simple when you get down to it: If the retailer is not clear, get in touch with them. If for some reason you can't, you can usually rely on these terms to get you what you need.
Be with us next time when we discuss the place settings of crystal and flatware.