My friend Danielle recently gave me this adorable French butter crock.
Isn't it pretty? She had recently told me that she found two of these in a thrift store so she bought them for herself and a friend. I told her if she found another one I wanted it. Sure enough, the next time she came over she had one for me! These puppies cost about $20 new ($35 if it's Le Creuset) so I recommend keeping an eye out for one in the thrift stores.
What's so special about this crock, you ask? Well, you fill the base with a bit of clean water and you smash a stick of room-temperature butter into the bell part. Then you invert the bell onto the base and the water keeps out germs and oxygen, preventing the butter from going rancid without refrigeration. That way you always have softened butter on hand! If we don't eat all of the butter within a few days I change the water in the base but I've seen no sign of spoilage so far.
If you want to read more about the history of the French butter dish it has its own Wikipedia entry, which is rather interesting.