A Guide To Porcelain Pottery Values

Learn how to judge the value of your porcelain based on age, condition and rarity. Information on history, regions, and cultures.

Porcelain values have varied over the years for many different reasons. What might have been viewed as junk pottery seventy five years ago maybe now seen as highly desirable and valuable today. Other things affect porcelain values such as chips, cracks, lines and forgeries. Markings also enhance the prices of porcelain. In some cases, such as Reinhold Schlegelmilch porcelain, items might bring five to ten times an amount if marked. And, your porcelain values can be enhanced by the care you take in cleaning and storing your porcelain to protect it.

The first thing that will help in determining the value of your pottery is to try and find out the age of the item. One of the better ways of doing this is to familiarize yourself with the newer and more common items. Since there are more of these, the value of the older pieces is elevated since they are fewer and harder to find. Once you know what is common, it is often easy to pick out the unusual pieces.

Marking are often used to judge when a piece was created, thus determining its value. There are too many porcelain marks for you to remember them all, but there are some rules about markings you can remember. If the name of the country appears on the bottom of the piece, this was probably made slightly before or after 1890. At that point, the United States government required, by law, that the name of the country be printed on all imported porcelain. If there is not a country name on the piece, then the design of the mark becomes a factor. The older marks are usually plain, while newer marks are often more detailed in design. English pottery especially can be dated by the markings. If the word "trademark" is used, the piece was made after 1855. If the word "LTD," standing for limited appears on the bottom, it was made after 1880. If you are not sure about the markings on a piece, the best way to find out what era it is from is to research the marking online or through your local library.

There are other tattletale signs to an item's age. Due to manufacturing, older items are normally heavier than newer items. Eighteen and nineteenth Japanese porcelain was fired on a trivet, leaving what is called spur marks on the bottom. The spur marks are small bumps on the bottom left by the metal. When looking for antique teacups, the older ones will not have handles. Chinese tea was served at such a low temperature; there was no need for handles when gripping the teacup.

The worst thing that can happen to a piece of antique pottery is chips and cracks. This will often greatly diminish the value. Caring for your porcelain properly can help you keep its value at a maximum. Porcelain should never be washed in a dishwasher. It should always be hand washed with a mild detergent. After washing, pieces should be carefully dried and stored in a cupboard or cabinet away from direct sunlight. Stains can sometimes be removed by scrubbing gently with a toothbrush. But you should never scrub an item with a luster finish. The luster is easily removed if rubbed too harshly.

If damage does occur, it is possible to find an antique dealer who can fix the damaged piece. You want to take your item to a dealer or someone qualified to fix pottery damage rather than trying to fix it yourself. If the piece it not fixed in a professional manner, the price will decrease greatly.

Unfortunately, there are fake reproductions of antique porcelain on the market. Some are so good that it is very easy to be fooled into thinking it is the real thing. Again, you can often tell age by the weight of an item, as mentioned earlier. New pieces are usually heavier and thicker than older ones. Familiarize yourself with authentic markings and colors. Forgeries often use slightly different marks and the colors are not quite the same as originals. The best defense is to know as much as you can about the porcelain you are collecting. If you are purchasing an item and it is particularly expensive, you might want to get a second opinion before purchasing it.

Finally, remember a professional appraiser can determine the value of your porcelain. If you are not happy with one appraisal, seek out another. There are appraisers who will give you a low price then want to purchase your item for that price. Remember too, the value the appraiser gives you can only be met if you find someone who wants the item so much, they are willing to pay that price. Also, some items are more valuable in certain markets. So, while the value of your porcelain is sometimes hard to determine, if you enjoy collecting it and plan on keeping it for your own pleasure, it can be priceless.

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