Back to all articles

The History of Dinner Plates

Dinner plates are a pretty basic object. Aside from choosing colors and patterns, we barely give them any thought. However, dinner plates have quite a long history! The earliest dinner plates were made from repurposed natural materials like large leaves, gourd halves, or perhaps shells. When clay pottery was discovered, ancient peoples made cups, bowls, and plates. For centuries, plates were used only to bring food to the table – people would use their fingers to take food from large central plates, but they wouldn’t typically have their own individual plates. In the Middle Ages, those who could afford them bought pewter plates while others used wooden plates. However, trenchers made from bread were very popular and were used well into the 16th century. For elaborate meals, trenchers were carved for each person. There were also smaller “dessert” trenchers, and from these, individual dinner plates developed. Over time, plates evolved into something fancy and were often made from porcelain and china. Today, plates are made from a variety of materials, ranging from unbreakable plastic for everyday use to delicate porcelain for special events.

Share this article

card showing the history of rocking chairs

Your go-to guide for weird history facts

Subscribe to the FREE daily email that makes learning about history fun.