Most china patterns have certain standard pieces, see our China Pieces Guide for a list of them. Then there are patterns that are so popular that the manufacturers churn out new accessory pieces for them every year (see Herend Rothschild Bird, Lenox Holiday and Portmeirion Botanic Garden to name a few.)
We’ve heard over the years about pieces that are not offered with many patterns but many believe are needed and should be. Most of the pieces included below offer real, functional value besides for aesthetic and visual beauty.
The Coupe Soup Bowl: Most patterns offer only the rimmed soup bowl. The extra rim space allows greater room and visibility. The drawback is that rimmed soup bowls tend to be shallow so you end up choosing between serving less soup or risking spillage on the floor or table. (See Lenox Serenade for an example of a coupe soup bowl).
The Salt and Pepper Set: Considering how standard it is to use salt at a meal it is surprising how few patterns make salt shakers (the pepper shaker is less needed but would make up the set). Considering it’s small size, it would be relatively simple to manufacture and not too expensive for the average consumer. (See Lenox Citation Gold for a salt and pepper set)
The Mug: Now this is a more common piece but still not standard. China purists will get all over me for this but I would substitute the mug for the tea cup and saucer as part of the place setting based on people’s preferences nowadays. (See Royal Doulton Provence for a good-looking mug)
The Charger: Chargers are so flexible and they make such an impact on the set table. Considering the size of food portions today, I would hazard a guess that chargers are more relevant now than ever. (See the ever-delightful Royal Worcester Worcester Herbs for their version of a charger)
The Vase: Pick whichever size you want, but a vase is a must. What percentage of good meals are served with no flowers adorning the table? Very few. Why should the floral arrangement not integrate seamlessly with what surrounds it? Vases are also the classical gift idea for the hostess and while your average vase may be uninspired, bringing a vase which matches your hostess china set is a home run. Guaranteed. (What a vase the Aynsley Pembroke pattern features!)