Airline Butter Pats

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By Richard Luckin

What ranges from 1-7/8 inches to more than 4 inches, is round, and used by airlines worldwide? The answer is simple: butter pats. Depending upon the manufacturer, they have different names: Butter, Butter Chip, Butter Dish-Coaster, Butter Pad, Butter Pot, Butter Tray, and Individual Butter. No matter what the name, they’re ALL butter pats.

However, butter pats can and are used for more than serving butter. They are also used for serving nuts or sauces in first and business classes on international flights. For this reason, some have a side wall that measures from 3/8” to 3/4” deep.

While some butter pats have only a front design, others are marked (back-stamped) with the manufacturer and airline name. While other forms of transportation have used butter pats, the airline variety is usually much lighter in weight and commonly made of bone china or fine porcelain.

A collector may ask, why does an airline bother to order butter pats from china companies? A butter pat adds a special touch to the meal service. For some airlines, particularly carriers that use a combination butter or nut dish, this ware permits multiple uses that provide cost savings.

Basically, there are three companies that supply butter pats to most of the world’s airlines. They are Royal Doulton and Wedgwood of England, and Noritake of Japan.

While it is not an absolute division of the market, it seems Royal Doulton has carved out its territory in Europe, Canada, the Middle East, some of the African continent, and New Zealand. Wedgwood caters to some of the smaller airlines of the world while Noritake has a foothold along the Pacific Rim, in South America, and in the United States.

Royal Doulton often features pinstripes and logos although it certainly has the capability of producing some very unique designs. Noritake often incorporates colorful floral designs which appeal to some of the Asian airlines. All three companies produce high-quality, fine bone china. Another strong contender for the airline china market is Hutschenreuther of Germany.

While COVID has altered airline travel and in-flight service, china is still being used.

Rich Luckin displays most of his airline butter pats in this wall-mounted display case. They represent over 40 years of collecting.
Founded in 1929, Cubana is Cuba’s flagship airline as well as the country’s largest one. This china is used in Club Class.
Business Class passengers on Air Malta are served their meals on Royal Doulton china. The airline operates flights to destinations in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
Royal Nepal Airlines was founded in 1958. The airline is now called Nepal Airlines and serves 36 destinations. This china was made by Noritake.
Known as the “Hibiscus” pattern, this china was used in First Class class service on Malaysia Airlines. Japanese china maker Noritake produced this floral design.
Iran Air was created in 1962 by the merger of other airlines. The pattern is called, “Simorgh” after the flying god of ancient Persian legends. Noritake also produced this pattern.
British Airways used this repetitive design for their Concorde service. Manufactured by Royal Doulton, this was the first china designed exclusively for the airline’s Concorde service.
Laker Airways operated two DC-10s for their transatlantic flights. The airline offered a “Regency Service” in 1966 where this butter pat was used.
Wedgwood of England supplied this bone china. Laker Airways ceased operations in 1982.
Malaysia Airlines is the flag carrier of Malaysia and it was formed in 1947. Manufactured by Noritake, this colorful pattern is known as “Golden Club” and was used in business class.
This is one of the oldest butter pats in my collection. Aeroflot was founded in 1923, making it one of the oldest active airlines in the world.
Ghana Airways was the flag carrier of Ghana. The airline ceased operations 2004. This butter pat was made in Thailand.
Pakistan International Airlines was founded in 1946. I believe this is a current pattern used in First Class service.
It’s always a bonus when a butter pat is marked with the airline’s name on the back. This one was made by Cera-e-Noor which claims to be the world’s oldest crockery manufacturer.
Shanghai Airlines was founded in 1985 and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Eastern Airlines.
China Airlines is the state-owned national carrier of the Republic of China. The airline operates over 1,400 flights weekly to 102 cities.
This pattern, known as “Golden Dragon Service,” was used by Continental Airlines in 1978 in First Class service between Los Angeles and Taipei, via Honolulu and Guam.
The airline used this unique pattern for 6-9 months. It was a stock pattern but the Contrails Logo in red was back stamped on each piece.
Backstamp for the Continental “Golden Dragon Service” butter pat.
Western Airlines used this butter pat with their brand mascot, Wally Bird. The airline merged with Delta Air Lines in 1987. The piece was made by Mayer China Company.
The Western Airlines butter pat has a full backstamp.
A gold-trimmed butter pat was produced for Peru’s President Alberto Fujimori. They were used until 1990 on his presidential Boeing 757 aircraft.
England’s Royal Air Force uses fine bone china for their VIP service. The planes are catered at Royal Air Force Brize Norton Base in Oxfordshire, located about 75 miles northwest of London.
This Royal Air Force butter pat was produced by Royal Doulton of England.
For this older Air France butter pat, the pattern name is known as “Hippocampe.” The logo was used until 1976. Haviland China of France produced this butter pat.
Ethiopian Airlines was founded on December 21, 1945. It is the country’s flagship carrier. This piece was made by Rosenthal of Germany.
Iberia is Spain’s national airline and was founded in 1927. Kaelis, who supplied this piece, is the world’s leading independent provider of onboard products and services.
Transaero was founded in 1990 in Moscow. It ceased operation in 2015. Imperial Porcelain produced this butter pat.

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Comments (1)

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    John G Macalla


    This truly a nifty set You’ve got , but how? Did you buy from other collectors. trade for them? As much as I am in awe of your collection, as a fellow collector I’ve found very little related air line memorabilia for sale. Even food service corporation wouldn’t have as varied air line logo’d china ware on hand. I don’t want collect butter pads as you, but wonder how you got access to such variety of sources. I hope any reply will not be to have to buy a quantity of dishes from the manufacturer


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