Here is a selection of plates from my collection.
I think plates are a great way for collectors on a budget to build their collections and their knowledge. Most plates will have come from large dinner services and will help you build a catalogue of patterns from your chosen manufacturer's works. Alternatively, they may have been made specifically as "cabinet" pieces, designed to be displayed and highly decorated by skilled artists. Examples of plates made not for the purpose of eating off were often bought by wealthy aristocrats to show off to their guests and famous collections from factories like Sevres and Meissen can be found in museums and posh country pads. Plates used for display purposes now seem to be very out of vogue. They don't often look contemporary or sit easily in a modern home, unless of course you are trying for a look that says, "ironic" chintz. A beautiful pine dresser or rustic style cornice shelf may be one display option, but my advice is, less is more - if you want to display your collection in this way, make it a statement with colour (Blue & White is a perennial favourite), or shape perhaps - a selection of ribbed or unusually shaped plates looks great. You may, of course, simply display a cross-section of your collection irrespective of the clashing designs, and be quite academic about it, saying that you want it to represent a range work from your chosen manufacturer. But to your guests, they may simply look a jumble without further explanation and I don't think many of use would want to label our collections with little form board signs like you see in museums.