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Charger Plates…The Why, When, and How

August 18, 2011

As a relative newbie to the Hadley family, both as an employee and as a collector, I have been in awe of our customers as I’ve interacted with them on facebook and via email, their sense of style, impeccable manners, and attention to detail, among other things.

So imagine my shock when I posted a facebook survey question: “Do you use charger plates when you entertain?” and learned that only 32% of us even use this particular table accessory.  In fact (gasp!) 16% of you answered with “What is a charger plate?” For the record, in the spirit of complete and total honesty, I was forced to answer the poll myself with a resounding “never,” an answer I am planning to change now that I’ve learned a little more about this under-utilized piece.

Charger plates, also referred to as chop plates, service plates, and even underplates (sounds too much like underpants for my taste), got their start at formal events like weddings, state dinners, and the like, but have evolved over time to become an economical way for hostesses to spice up any gathering, even a casual dinner party among friends, with a little tabletop eye candy.  There are lots of different styles and types of chargers, but the one thing they have in common is that they never come in direct contact with any food. 

Examples of three different charger plates

Chargers from fancy to fun

I may be speaking for others when I say that one of the reasons I haven’t jumped into the charger game is because I have been intimidated about when they are on the table and when my butler husband should take them off the table.  Well, lucky for all of us, Manners International has addressed this very question and actually makes it sound pretty easy.  Here’s what they have to say:

The charger plates should be on the table when the guests are seated. The soup, fish or salad course are served on top of the charger. It is customary for the charger plate to be removed prior to the serving of the entree or dinner course. Some people however, prefer to leave the charger plate on the table during the entree because they enjoy the appearance of the charger. Regardless of if you remove the charge after the soup, fish, salad or entree, the charger plate should always be removed before the dessert course.

Part of what got me so interested in the subject of charger plates is that in a recent meeting with our head decorator Sue, for which we requested she bring any items or designs she had created over the years but that had never quite seen the light of day, she brought out these absolutely stunning Hadley charger plates that completely changed the look of any Hadley piece you placed on them.  I was blown away, as we placed various Hadley pottery patterns on top of the chargers, in everything from soup bowls to bread, salad and dinner plates

Hadley charger plate idea featuring anchor plate

Could you see this on your table?

Take a look, and post your comments…would you ever use a charger, or is it just too impractical to consider for any of your entertaining?  What do you think of the design?  We love hearing from you, so tell us what you think.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2011 1:04 pm

    So happy to hear you address this subject. I have a set of 12 pewter charger plates, which I love. However they were purchased back when dinner plates were 10″, and now the larger 11″ dinner plates don’t fit the chargers. Thank you so much for clarifying ‘when’ chargers should be used. i will now begin using them again for the salad/soup coarses, and remove them for the entrees.
    I love the Hadley chargers, but don’t think I need 2 sets.

  2. Marsha Jeffries permalink
    January 26, 2012 10:09 am

    I love Hadley Pattery. My favorite is the country collection.

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