There is so much exquisitely patterned and inexpensive china, glass, and porcelain turned out these days that one cannot wander very far afield in buying unless she gets lost among the intricacies of castors - pickle and otherwise - ironstone china, colored and imitation cut glass, and butter dishes with domelike covers. Probably the persons who invented these have gone to join hands with the perpetrator of the red tablecloth. May their works soon follow them! Complete sets of dishes are giving way to the character and diversity imparted to the table by odd pieces and sets for different courses. However, a pretty, inexpensive set of porcelain or china - something which will bear acquaintance, and of some easily replaced standard pattern - is a good beginning, for one rarely starts out with a full equipment of fine china, and even so, there should be something stronger to bear the heaviest brunt of wear. All complete sets contain one hundred and seven pieces, and include one dozen each of dinner, breakfast, tea, soup, and butter plates, and cups and saucers of medium size, three platters of various sizes, vegetable dishes, covered and coverless, and a gravy boat. Tureen, sugar bowl, and cream pitcher, and after-dinner coffees are not included, but may be ordered extra. The choice in everyday sets lies between plain white - preferably the French china, known as Haviland, which can be bought for $35 - and the blue - and - white English porcelain of different makes - Copeland, Trenton, etc., a desirable set of which costs $15 and higher. All-white is entirely blameless from the standpoint of good taste, and has a dainty fineness in the Haviland of which one rarely tires, while it never clashes with anything else on the table. It is so infinitely preferable to cheap, gaudy decorations, so sincerely and honestly what it seems to be, that it has a certain self-respecting quality which one cannot help but admire. Blue-and-white has an attraction which has never died since it had its birth in the original Delft, which is copied so extensively now in Japan and China. And though the porcelain is but an imitation, it is a clever one, and one which leaves little to be desired in decorative value and general effect.
The design may strike one at first as being a little heavy, but it improves on acquaintance, and it has been very aptly said that the fact of its having survived enthusiasm should vouch for its worth. Porcelain has a good glaze which does not readily crack or break. Advancing in the scale of cost and fineness, we come to that most beautiful of all chinas - the gold-and-white - which can be had at from $50 a set up to as high as $1,500. The gilding is in coin gold, the effect of richness tempered with chastity being carried through all grades in varying intensity. It "expresses itself beyond expression," and is an honor to any table.