Antique Square Cake Plates to Serve Desserts With Style

Updated March 23, 2022
square cake stand

An antique square cake plate is a unique way to serve cakes and pastries, whether for a tea or birthday celebration. While round cake plates are the easiest to find, other shapes are available, including square and octagonal cake plates.

History of the Cake Plate

Cake plates have evolved from trays that were used to serve beer and other beverages as early as the mid 1600s. These flat trays were often footed, meant to help servers serve more efficiently and save the floors from spills.

These early plates were called salvers. Eventually servants found that they were just as useful for serving jellies and desserts as they were for wine and beer. As the salvers increased in popularity, they also became more elegant.

1700s - Special Plates for Fruit and Cake

Although the American Colonies were heading for a major war, the wealthy wanted to emulate the opulent feasts of France. These feasts were served in numerous courses and served with the help of salvers overflowing with candied fruits, cakes, pastries, and other treats. Salvers had been imported, but the break with England meant that Americans began manufacturing them in the 1770s.

1800s - Cake Plates With Pedestals

By the mid-1800s salvers and cake plates were synonymous. Some cake plates were given pedestals to showcase the items that they held. Others remained flat or footed. A variety of materials were used as well.

Materials for Footed Cake Plates

You'll find footed cake plates in a variety of materials and styles, including the following:

  • Hammered copper and aluminum
  • Early American Pressed Glass (EAPG)
  • Ironstone
  • Milk glass
  • Pattern glass
  • Silver
  • Transferware

Collectors love cake plates, no matter what the shape. EAPG and Depression glass are particular favorites with many people, whether it is clear or colored glass.

Shopping for an Antique Square Cake Plate

Although cake plates fell out of favor in the mid-1900s, they have become popular once again with the advent of food blogs, food shows, and other venues that show them beautifully decorated with dainty cakes and pastries. If you want to serve your desserts on one of these pretty pedestals, there are lots of places to look for the perfect one.

Decorated chocolate cake

These are some of the best places to find these plates:

  • Antique stores - Although you might not get the best deals at antique stores, they can be a wonderful place to find really special cake plates.
  • Antique auctions - Local auctions sometimes include glass and china, and they can be a wonderful way to get a bargain on a cake plate.
  • Flea markets - While you'll have to sort through lots of random items (which can be fun), flea markets offer the opportunity to get an amazing deal on antique glassware.
  • Garage sales - Sometimes people feel like less-used dishes just take up space, so it's not uncommon to find cake plates at garage sales - often for a good deal.
  • Thrift shops - It may take several visits, but thrift stores often have cheap glassware, including cake plates.

If you can't find what you are looking for locally, online venues like eBay and Ruby Lane usually have a fabulous selection. Pay attention to the cost of shipping when you shop online, since cake plates can be heavy and need to be packed very carefully.

Examples of Antique Square Cake Trays

You can find examples of these beautiful plates and stands all over the internet. Here are a few that you will find interesting. Dates are given where they were available.

Displaying and Using Square Cake Plates

A glass-front, lighted cabinet filled with a variety of colors of glass cake plates is beautiful, but there are other ways to decorate with your antique square cake plates.

  • Arrange them in groups of varying heights and colors on a shelf or surface in your dining room.
  • Display candles on them in your living room or bedroom for a pretty vintage touch.
  • Display realistic looking clay cakes and treats on them for a playful and inspiring vignette.
  • Use the antique cake plates to hold fruit and snacks.
  • Make a display of another, small collection on the cake plate and place a dome over it.
  • Use it for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, tarts, and pies - just like it was designed.

Caring for Vintage Cake Plates

Once you have your cake plate, a little, gentle care is all it will take to keep it looking good. Vintage square cake plates are particularly vulnerable to chipping at the corners, so use a little extra caution when cleaning them. Follow these tips to keep your collection in like-new condition:

  1. Always hand wash in warm water with a gentle soap.
  2. Place a folded tea towel on the bottom of the sink to guard against chipping and cracking.
  3. Rinse well and dry thoroughly.
  4. Store away from direct sunlight.

Enjoy the Beauty of Antique Cake Plates

Use your vintage treasures and enjoy them. By treating your cake plates gently, they will be around for a long time. They're perfect for special occasions or wedding cake stands, and they're also a wonderful way to make every day special. Every time you use these lovely plates, you can enjoy their antique beauty.

Antique Square Cake Plates to Serve Desserts With Style