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Collecting Antique and Vintage Plates and Dishware

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Why do people collect plates? Let's face it, most of us do in one way or another. We use plates every day, for simple family meals, or for special occasions, and holidays. But some of us have a few more plates than necessary or practical.

The true allure of collecting dishware is that some people just love it. We love the design, the color, or the pattern. Old plates have a secret history, a silent backstory of conversations over tea; plates hauled across oceans, or bought when a family moved up the socioeconomic ladder and were suddenly able to afford pretty instead of merely useful.

We've picked up dishware at flea markets or yard sales, eyes caught by the simple beauty of an every day article made remarkable by color or shape.

Sure, some folks purchased collector plates from, say, the Franklin Mint or other sources that once presented plates as an investment. Sadly, for those folks, the "investment" did not hold its value. Few of these types of plates hold any value at all unless you own the complete set.

The History of Porcelain

While pottery is a very old craft, fine porcelain was first produced in China sometime between 960 - 1127 CE (AD). The discovery of kaolin clay made it possible to fire dishware at high temperatures (2200 - 2600 degrees Fahrenheit) creating a brilliant white product.

When Marco Polo returned from the Far East in 1295, he brought ceramic dishes he called "porcella," comparing them to delicate sea shells. The word "porcelain" is derived from "porcella." Eventually, dishes were called "china" based on the country of origin.

Europeans embraced the beautiful dishes with cobalt blue decorations against a bright, white background. Only royalty and the very wealthy could afford fine china. The pagodas, dragons, storks, peonies, lotus flowers, and chrysanthemums of old Chinese porcelain designs remain popular to this day.

Tin-glazed earthenware created in Italy during the Renaissance also became popular. Dark earthenware pottery covered with a tin glaze created a dazzling white surface. (Delftware and Majolica were originally tin-glazed earthenware)

By the 17th century, Chinese porcelain poured into Europe and people began collecting colorful patterns and blue on white dishware with a sort of mania. But Europeans had not been able to reproduce the formula to create their own porcelain.

Meissen Imari style, circa 1730

Meissen Imari style, circa 1730

18th Century European Porcelain

Meissen

It wasn't until the early 18th century that Europe was able to make true porcelain. In 1709, the process for the creation of hard paste pocelain was discovered in Germany. Augustus the Strong founded Meissen in 1710, creating luxury china with sophisticated patterns. Old Meissen is highly collectible today, very expensive, and often identified as museum pieces.

Sevres

King Louis XV of France took a great interest in the production of porcelain. In 1738, he founded a factory at Chateau de Vincennes, then moved production to Sevres in 1758, He presented his soft-paste porcelain at annual sales that he held in his private dining room. Nobles curried the favor of the king by buying up his china.

Limoges

When kaolinite, the mineral in clay that is a major component of porcelain, was discovered in Limoges, France, the area became synonymous with elegant French tableware.

Wedgewood

Wedgewood was founded in the 18th century by Josiah Wedgewood. A genius at marketing, Wedgewood offered his product in catalogs. He set up a London showroom, solicited endorsements from high-society customers, and commissioned designs from prominent artists.

Spode

After an apprenticeship, Josiah Spode opened a factory in Stoke-on-Trent in 1770. He refined the process for the production of transfer printing of engraved designs and improved the formula for fine bone china. In 1833, the Spode heirs sold the business to William Taylor Copeland and Thomas Garrett, who renamed the company Copeland and Garrett. But the name Spode lives on.

How to Identify and Value Dishware

Backstamp

Backstamp

Perfectly lovely vintage style dishes can be found quite cheaply at flea markets, thrift stores, and yard sales. Old designs are often reproduced, and manufacturers like Johnsonville and Spode offer new versions of old favorites.

Identifying old plates demands a lot of research and education. You cannot always rely on online sellers. An antique dish ought to be at least 100 years old, but items on, say, eBay are often listed as "antique" or "rare" without being so. A true antique or other valuable item will be offered with a detailed product description including manufacturer, date, pattern, country of origin and condition. A real expert will tell you why the item is rare or valuable.

Very old or unique pieces can be very expensive. British Antique Roadshow once featured a large platter that was valued at 100,000 pounds. Face it, plates break. If a high end or special commission piece has lasted 200 years, it's going to be valuable for that reason alone. The chances of finding such a treasure at a yard sale are extremely low.

If a current producer suggests that a "collectible" plate will increase in value, do not believe it. No one can predict the future.

The easiest way to learn the value of any antique is to take it to an appraiser. If you take it to a dealer, remember that they will offer you less than an item's appraised value, because a dealer must consider overhead, marketability, and profit. However, a professional appraisal is very expensive and is used for more valuable pieces.

If you want to research the item yourself, you can attempt to describe the pattern and backstamp on Google Images, or find information online at sites like Replacements LTD or Kovels.

  • Backstamps appear on the bottom of a plate. In general, they were pressed into the surface of pieces made before 1899, so printed stamps mean the dish was made after 1900.
  • A date may indicate when a pattern was introduced, not when the specific item was manufactured.
  • The word "trademark" on an English dish indicates it was made from 1855 on. "LTD" was added to English company names beginning in 1886.
  • If there is no country of origin stated, the plate was probably made before 1891, when the McKinley Tariff Act mandated such information on commercially imported dishware. But this rule of thumb would not apply if your great-grandmother brought a plate to the US from the old country, wrapped up in a quilt.

Plate Varieties

From the 16th to the 18th century, the custom of dining grew more and more elaborate. While 16th century diners shared plates, the French court introduced the concept of separate plates. By the mid 19th century, dining à la russe came into vogue: the Russian style meant that individual plated foods were delivered to each guest.

A wide variety of plates emerged to fit the consumption-oriented Victorians including special plates for lunch, tea, fish, bread, salads, cheeses, and desserts. You can generally identify the type of plate by size. Fish plates usually feature a picture of a fish. Oyster plates have a circle of indentations to hold oysters.

A charger, or service plate, is a decorative placeholder and is 11 - 14 inches in diameter.

Dinner plate: 10 - 11"

Luncheon plate: 9 - 9 1/2"

Salad plate: 8 - 8 1/2"

Bread plate: 6 - 7"

Fish plate: 8 - 9"

Dessert plate: 7 1/4 - 8 1/2"

Cheese plate: 7 1/4"

Tea plates: 7 - 7 1/2"

Transferware: China for the Middle Class

Spode Archive Collection.  This reissue of a traditional transferware pattern features a British castle in a lovely shade of cranberry.

Spode Archive Collection. This reissue of a traditional transferware pattern features a British castle in a lovely shade of cranberry.

Transferware was introduced in the mid 1700s and increased in popularity during the Victoria era. Ink transferred from a copper plate onto damp tissue paper was applied to fired china. The piece was fired again at a relatively low temperature to fix the design, then fired a third time at a higher temperature. The inexpensive mass-produced china became popular with the growing middle class.

Designs were often copies of etchings, and included romantic scenes from the English countryside, quaint town scenes, or views of Italy, India, or China.

Other design motifs included portraits of historical figures, exotic animals, flowers, and scenes from stories or literature. After the War of 1812, English dishware makers began to produce items for the US market that included scenes from well-known American places, natural landmarks, significant buildings, and rail roads.

As scenic designs grew in popularity, many souvenirs were offered to tourists. In the days before everyone had a camera, people would purchase images from their travels on plates. World's Fair plates have been highly collectible ever since London's Great Exhibition in 1856. Souvenir plates can be pretty transferware, or cheaply produced so-ugly-they're-cute.

Depression Glass

Depression Glass

Popular 20th Century Dishware

Fiesta was introduced by Homer Laughlin China Company in 1936 in red, blue, light green, canary yellow, and ivory. Other colors were added in subsequent years, including turquoise, rose, gray, antique gold, and several other shades of green. The line was discontinued in 1973. The plain, brightly colored dishware became hugely collectible and was reintroduced in 1986.

Depression Glass was a type of glass dishware that gained popularity in the 1920s. New manufacturing techniques and materials allowed the production of clear glass plates, bowls, etc. Popular colors included pink green, and gold.

Corelle was introduced in 1970. The light, thin plates, bowls, and cups stored well and stood up to heavy use. Bu laminating three layers of tempered glass, Corning was able to offer a family-friendly product.

Noritake was opened in 1904 by the Morimura Brothers producing products to appeal to Americans in both high-end and budget markets. After World War II , they marketed under the name "Rose China" to avoid negative feelings toward Japan in the postwar years. By 1953, the name Noritake was back, with a new backstamp (the letter "N" inside a wreath), and is today one of the largest producers of dinnerware in the world.

Flow Blue

The blurred, indistinct edges of the pattern illustrate the pretty effect of flow blue

The blurred, indistinct edges of the pattern illustrate the pretty effect of flow blue

Flow Blue is a highly collectible china that was first produced by accident. When the cobalt color ran during firing, it created a smudged appearance. At first deemed a failure, the china was shipped to the United States where it caught on in a big way. The production of Flow Blue ceased during World War I due to shortages of the materials needed.

Blue Willow

plates-collecting-antique-and-vintage-dishware

Blue Willow has been a popular transferware design since the late 1700s, being reproduced with variations ever since. Blue Willow is the quintessential story plate, illustrating the tragic tale of two lovers. Elements of the design include a slanted tree, a pagoda, a boat, and two doves at the top. The same design produced in other colors (cranberry or brown) is commonly known as Willow Ware.

Satisfaction When You Can't Afford the Best

Royal Copenhagen Blue Fluted dishware

Royal Copenhagen Blue Fluted dishware

Falling in love with an expensive brand of dishware may make you swoon in secret, but you can duplicate the style for less. Royal Copenhagen's Blue Fluted dishware has been produced since 1775. Its clean, classic look has been copied ever since. Above you can see the real thing on display. Below, you can see Lipper and Man's Blue Fjord, which can be found at one third the price of the original.

Blue Fjord

Blue Fjord

Care and Storage of Vintage Dishware

  • If your favorite plates are recent reproductions of favorite vintage dishware, you can clean them in the dishwasher, but if your dishware is old it's best to avoid using the dishwasher.
  • Clean old dishware in warm water using a mild detergent and a soft cloth. Line the sink with a dishtowel to avoid breakage. Rinse with warm water. Sudden changes in water temperature can lead to crazing (a lot of tiny cracks).
  • Dry with a soft cloth.
  • Store older dishware that is not on display in padded containers. Place cushioning material between plates.
  • Do not use vintage dishware in a microwave.

For Further Reading

There are many books that can help you learn about vintage and antique dishware. Some feature the products of one significant company while others present a more sweeping look at a variety of china. Older books can be helpful as the information does not change over time. Price guides reflect retail pricing. Older price guides will not reflect current values.

Miller's Pottery and Porcelain Marks by Gordon Lang

Kovel's New Dictionary of Marks: Pottery and Porcelain From 1850 to the Present by Ralph and Terry Kovel

Pictorial Guide to Pottery and Porcelain Marks by Chad Lage

Lehner's Encyclopedia of US Marks on Pottery, Porcelain, and Clay by Lois Lehner

Encyclopedia Of British Pottery and Porcelain Marks by Geoffrey A. Godden

Dinnerware of the 20th Century The Top 500 Patterns by Harry L. Rinker

Collector's Encyclopedia of American Dinnerware by Jo Cunningham

Dishes by Shax Riegler and Robert Bean

Collector's Encyclopedia of Limoges by Mary Frank Gaston

Spode and Copeland: Over Two Hundred Years of Fine China and Porcelain by Schiffer Books for Collectors

Gaston's Flow Blue China by Mary Gaston

Questions & Answers

Question: I have an old pitcher with a P21 mark on the bottom. Do you know what this is?

Answer: When you are trying to understand a piece of pottery or dishware, you need to be more specific in your search query. That pitcher may be made of pewter, silver, pottery, or porcelain. So mention that detail in your search. If you want to find a book on the topic, you will notice that there are informative books out there on many old products.

If you want to try a Google image search (or indeed any search), you also need to mention the size, color, significant details, and decorations. Also, check to see if there is any other information on the bottom of the pitcher. Marks can include the producer's name or an image that represents the manufacturer. Also, marks change over the years so that can help you pinpoint when the product was made.

You can find information on maker's marks (or backstamps) in several books:

"Pictorial Guide to Pottery and Porcelain Marks" by Chad Large

"Kovel's New Dictionary of Marks - Pottery and Porcelain 1850 - Present" by Ralph Kovel

"Kovel's Dictionary of Marks Pottery and Porcelain 1650 - 1850" by Ralph and Terry Kovel.

Remember that an older book will not reflect current values but will help you identify your piece. You can research prices at Kovel's online, Replacements online, or look at sold prices in online auction sites.

Question: I have some place settings of dishes with pattern Romantic England, Penshurst Place, J.&G. Meakin, England. Are these collectibles?

Answer: The J & G Meakin pottery was founded in 1851 producing earthenware and ironstone for export to the United States and Australia. James and George (the J and the G) were brothers of Alfred Meakin another English potter. The Meakin name was no longer in use after 1970. In the 1950s they began to make dishware with romantic landscapes.

Look at online auction sales for values. Transferware is not very popular with the buying public of today. The sentimental scenes depicted do not fit into the current fashion for sleek, modern design. Personally, I love it and use Johnson Brother's transferware for every day. (Johnson brothers was founded by a relative of John and George Meakin).

If you want to collect something, make sure you collect what you love, not what you think may be valuable in the future. If you love the old romantic dishware, go for it. It is not fine porcelain, inexpensive, and stands up to use.

You can search online auction sites to check prices.

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Question: What type of dinner plate has a cup holder embedded in the plate?

Answer: Smaller plates with cups and cup indentations were produced for snacks, tea parties, or luncheon sets. Many of these sets were made in a variety of colors and patterns. Federal Rosecrest, for example, was an opaque white with a pattern of roses. Federal also made snack plates in clear glass. Their Autumn milk glass featured fall leaves. Hazel Atlas made cute clear apple shaped plates with indentations for cups.

If you are trying to identify your plates, Google image snack plate, tea plate, or luncheon plate. Include in your search - clear or opaque, color, design of the edge, shape (oval, rectangular, apple shaped), and details of decoration.

The plate will be of the best value if you also have the cup.

Question: I have a bowl from Grindley, with the sailboat stamp on back, with Grindley then below Tunstall, and below, England. A flowery bowl on the outside and around the edges, with a bunch of flowers inside on the middle bottom. It also has a Y listed in gold on the bottom. The only thing I can find as far as dating it is where Tunstall is and it's said to predate 1891. I have looked everywhere on the internet and cannot find this particular bowl. Where should I look to help identify my Grindley and Tunstall bowl?

Answer: The W. H. Grindley pottery was founded in 1880. Tunstall is an area in Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England. When you look for information or for books you may also look at Staffordshire pottery.

Also, when you describe a piece or take notes on it, do not forget to include the color. The area was known for transferware and Flow Blue. You should include that in your search.

There are many books on the subject so I do not want to list items that may be irrelevant. When you search for a book, you may be looking for one of the terms mentioned above. There are books out there dedicated to Flow Blue Staffordshire, etc.

Look for your particular backstamp at ThePotteries.org/mark/g/grindley.htm

You can also try:

Late Victorian Flow Blue & Other Ceramic Wares - A Selected History of Potteries, and Shapes from Schiffer Books

Question: I have various blue willow pieces to include serving dishes with lids. They are stamped on the back with blue willow, Allerton, made in England. Any idea of their worth?

Answer: Blue Willow is a pattern that has been in constant production for a long time. The image tells the tale of Chinese sweethearts and has been adapted in various forms by many companies.

Charles Allerton and Sons produced transferware in England from 1859 - 1942. Before you try to learn the value of your pieces, you should find out when it was produced. Age and condition mean a lot. I have seen Blue Willow by Allerton for sale for a wide variety of prices. Older, rarer pieces will be more valuable.

A maker's mark indicated who produced the dishware. Most manufacturers slightly changed their marks over time. You can find a chart of Allerton marks and the changes they made at an online site called The Potteries.org. There you can get a general idea of the age of your pieces. Then you can easier learn the value.

Once you know the age of your blue Willow, you can scan online auction sites for value. Ignore the highest option. You can also check out price guides on Kovels, Replacements, or Worthpoint.

Question: I have a floral plate measuring approx 23 cm across with no indication of place or company of origin except for the number '2732' hand painted in green with a small upside-down Y and dot underneath. Please advise where this plate may be from?

Answer: You can learn more about your dishware by researching it yourself. Is it pottery or porcelain? Gently tap on the edge of the plate with your fingernail. Porcelain will produce a "ting" sound while pottery sounds like a quiet "thud."

When a piece of dishware has no maker's mark, the numbers may indicate the person who painted it (as piece work) or the item's pattern.

Try to find something similar on Google images. Describe the plate in as simple terms as possible. State shape, size, main color, pattern, and trim on the rim. As it is floral, state the type of flower in your description.

You can check out antique porcelain information with a book. Try Millers Porcelain Antiques Checklist by Paul Davidson or another like it. You can also take the plate to a dealer who specializes in old dishware. Tell them that you don't want to sell, just help with information. Expect to pay a fee but maybe not as much as with an official appraiser. Appraisals can be quite pricey.

Question: I have a 98 piece set of Hutschenreuther china that was a custom designed, one-of-a-kind pattern. My understanding is that it was commissioned in the 30s by a private party. Is a one-off, custom design more valuable than other sets? I'm having a very hard time finding experts in fine china and I don't want to underestimate the value of the set. Any suggestions for how to it evaluated?

Answer: If you think that your china is valuable, it would make sense to have it appraised by a professional. Contact your insurance agent for a recommendation. You can also look at the site for the American Society of Appraisers and find someone who specializes in china in your area.

Question: I have a dinner set of white "milk glass" that belonged to my grandmother. I remember her having these in her dining room when I was a child in the 1960s and I'm guessing they are pre-1950. They have the Federal Glass "F" in a shield with the words "Heat (above the shield) & Proof (below the shield)". I am now trying to downsize; are these of any value or should I just donate them to a local charity?

Answer: The term "milk glass" became popular during the Victorian era when the pretty white glass was used as a stand-in for porcelain. While it fell out of favor around the time of the Great Depression, it came back into vogue after World War 2. There is a lot of it around. You can buy it for next to nothing at thrift shops. Some pieces are more valuable than others like old, rare items that may be worth $100.00. Cake stands are a hot commodity as well.

It is up to you whether to donate or sell your milk glass. Downsizing and selling can be fun, is a lot of work, and can earn you some money. But selling online demands work. You must list, describe, and photograph each item. You need to price so that it will sell. Then you need to check often to stay on top of sales, then package and mail the things that you sell. If you wish to enter such a project, then go for it.

Look around online and see the kinds of prices people are asking. Follow some auction sales to see what similar items sell for and decide if the work is worthwhile. You could also check around local antique malls or shops to see if a dealer is interested. Make sure that you take some photos with you if you do this.

The question is - how much is this work worth to you? If you are downsizing because you want to move, the work of selling may just cause you more aggravation.

Question: I have a platter with a windmill and sailboat, with a stamp of Sakakibara Japan. Is it worth anything? In wonderful shape. Has been sitting in my cupboard for years.

Answer: When you are searching for information on dishware, you should include several things in your description. Include color and backstamp information. Does the marking on the back show the word "ocean" over a crown with a central cross? If so, that is a very pretty piece.

You can valuate your platter on several sites. Try Kovels, Replacements, or Worthpoint. You can also sold prices on ebay.

Remember that European dishware that feature European scenes like windmills will be more expensive than those made in Asia. Windmill patterns do not seem as popular as they once were. Even plates with windmill patters made by Delft and Royal Copenhagen are not as expensive as other patterns.

Question: I have some china plates and platters without a stamped back mark but have the words "New Castle China". They are off-white with a green color and gold rim/gold design in the pattern. Is there a way to know when they were made?

Answer: Of course I can not tell you for sure what you have. I can not see it or see what is under the plate. But a company called Shenango New Castle produced china for hotels, restaurants, and institutions beginning in 1901 in Pennsylvania.

The marks on the undersides of the china vary. Some feature a sitting Indian while other show the words "New Castle China" but also have the word Shenango above. If that word appears and they look like restaurant plates, you may want to take a look on Google images to see if that is what you have.

Question: I have eight pieces of a scalloped heavy gilded rose pattern. Back has small round indent with number next to it. I can't find this mark anywhere. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: If you are beginning to learn about maker's marks on dishware, there is a lot to learn, and this may take some time. First and simplest is to describe the mark on Google images and hope that something comes up. You may be led to sites that feature lots of marks, or backstamps.

You can also use a book for research. There are quite a few out there, available at your local library or you can buy one used. Even an older book will work as you are not looking for a value. Older books show outdated values, but the marks will be informative.

Some books that may help you:

"Pictorial Guide to Pottery and Porcelain Marks" by Chad Lage is nice because instead of just line drawings, images depict the actual dishware and what the mark looks like on the dishware.

"Kovel's New Dictionary of Marks Pottery and Porcelain 1850 - Present" by Ralph Kovel.

"Miller's Antique Marks" by Judith Miller

Question: What are Fostoria dishes?

Answer: Fostoria glassware was produced in the US, first at Fostoria Ohio in the late 1800s. The company moved to Virginia and produced glassware there from 1915 until the late 1980s. In the 1920s Fostoria offered colored glass including green, amber and blue, and began to advertise in popular women's magazines.

For more information, look for "Fostoria: Serving the American Table 1887-1986" by Leslie Pina or "Fostoria: An Identification and Value Guide of Pressed, Blown & Hand Molded Shapes" by Ann Kerr. These are older books that you can find for a low price. Of course, current values will not be available in an older book.

Wash your Fostoria glassware by hand. Older dishware and glassware should not be cleaned in a dishwasher.

Question: Is an antique plate still valuable if it has chips, craving and discoloration? I recently acquired a plate c1825, in tact but it is distressed.

Answer: Most plate that are that damaged hold little to zero value. However, if it is rare or in very high demand, someone may be willing to buy it. After all, you did! Check out the plate online. If you can identify the plate, look it up on Kovels or Replacemants, or another site to see how much it is selling for in good condition. If the plate is selling for a very high price, you may be able to earn a few dollars. There are some highly desired pieces that can only be found in a damaged condition.

Some people buy damaged plates for use in mosaic projects or jewelry making. They break the plate and use the pieces. But I would hate to see such an old plate wrecked on purpose. If I had one like that I'd put it up on my hutch and smile. If that plate could only talk.

Question: What does a “spoon holder” bowl look like?

Answer: There are a number of products that were made to hold spoons. Today we think of a spoon holder as a shallow bowl with a short extension that supports the spoons handle. In the past, jars were sold as spoon holders. Many such jars were Depression Glass. They resemble a wide drinking glass or a wide-mouthed vase with a decorative edge.

Victorian and Edwardian spoon holder bowls were sugar bowls that offered a place to hold one or more spoons. One version features a bowl made of glass or silver with a handle from which a spoon is suspended. Another version is a sugar bowl with a metal band near the top with little hooks. Some of these types could hold many spoons.

Question: I have a set of plates, with serving pieces, of the pattern “Fibre” made by Globe Pottery, Cambridge England. Can you give me an idea of their worth?

Answer: Globe Pottery Cobridge produced the pattern called Fibre between 1914 and 1934. The mark includes an orb with vertical and horizontal lines with a banner that says Globe Pottery. The orb is topped by a crown which is topped by the pattern name, in this case, Fibre.

You can find the current value at Kovels, Replacements, or Worthpoint online. You need to be signed into these sites to find actual value. Remember that the value means how much an item will cost you. It does not guarantee that you will get that amount if you choose to sell it. If you sell to a dealer or at a consignment shop, remember that the seller must make overhead and profit. If you sell on a site like eBay, you take your chances that someone out there is willing to pay the price that you ask.

Question: I have an oval dish measuring 12.5" W x 9.5" H. It is stamped "Sachco" on the back with no other information. It is a Rainbow Trout themed dish. I have found very little about Sachco online. If you could help it would be most appreciated. Do you have any idea of how old it is and the value?

Answer: Sachco made low end dishware including advertising plates and plain plates. I don't know much about the company but their products can occasionally be found online for between $7.00 - 210.00. The plate that I saw advertised Goldsteins the Dependable Store for Women in Altoona Pennsylvania. I spotted ads for the store (with the motto) in the Altoona Mirror dated 1912.

Question: I have some old Japanese or Chinese plates. Can you tell me what era this may be from?

Answer: Before you try to identify your plates you should find out if they are Chinese or Japanese. Both countries have a long tradition of creating beautiful ceramics. They are not the same.

Look online at how to tell the difference. In general, Japanese is simple and slightly curvy with more spaces. Chinese characters are blocky and dense. However, before the 20th century the characters were the same.

Once you discover if your plates are Japanese or Chinese, you can educate yourself with a book:

How to Identify Old Chinese Porcelain by Mrs. Willoughby Hodgson

The Handbook of Marks on Chinese Ceramics by Gerald Davidson

or

The Japanese Pottery Handbook by Penny Simpson

Inside Japanese Ceramics - Primer of Materials, Techniques, and Traditions by Richard L. Wilson

Learning about what you have can take time and patience. That is why professional appraisers command such high fees.

Question: I have a 5pc pottery tea set that I cannot identify. The only markings are by hand, and they read "Italy" on the bottom. The glazing doesn't go all the way to the bottom either, and the bottom where it rests on the table is rough. It has a green leaf pattern, much like a vine, with white flowers, 5 petals, and a yellow center. The teapot is one of the tall styles, with a lid, and it has the matching creamer w/ lid and sugar bowl. Same markings on them all, but definitely done by hand. Any ideas?

Answer: If the pot is tall, it is probably a coffee pot. Teapots are rounded and short, while coffee pots are more narrow and taller than teapots. Some tall ceramic or pottery pots were made for chocolate. The chocolate pots have short spouts near the top and are a bit shorter than coffee pots.

Real Italian pottery usually shows an unglazed bottom, usually of a terra cotta color. You can see brush strokes in authentic pieces.

To identify your set, try one of these sources:

"Italian Pottery Marks From Cantagalli to Fornasetti" by Walter and Karen Del Pellegrino.

You can also look at the Kovel's or Miller's book suggested in the article.

Question: What 18th-century manufacturer of pottery went by the name R & W?

Answer: Learn about pottery marks by consulting a book on the subject. You can also find some information at online sites that specialize in pottery marks. Robinson and Wood used the initials in their products from 1832 - 1836. Hanley is an area in Staffordshire, England, an area known for its production of earthenware, stoneware, porcelain, bone china, and jasperware. The area was also known for its early production of transferware.

Question: I have a large pale blue clay plate measuring 61.5 x 50cm with a blue monogram by Cauldon. I have been told it's from about 1800 and it's in excellent condition. Can you tell me anything about it's value?

Answer: The company who made your plate existed for many years since the mid 1800s and went through many name changes. Between 1890 and 1904, their products were marked Cauldon or Cauldon Ware. In 1904, Bates, Brown Westhead More & Company created products using the word Cauldon Ltd and continued until 1920. The name Cauldon Potteries indicates production between 1920 and 1962. Check out the Ridgeway Pattern book to find your pattern. Only then can you research a value.

Question: I have "The Letter" by Barry Leighton-Jones. Its plate number is 109A. Does it have any value?

Answer: Barry Leighton-Jones was born in London, England, in 1932, and died in 2011. In 1985, he was commissioned by the estate of the famous clown Emmet Kelly to create images based on Kelly. Of course, a signed, numbered lithograph is more valuable than a print. However, there is a glut of Leighton-Jones artwork on the market which decreases the value.

I have seen some auction estimates of between $100 and $150.00. Values on eBay are all over the place. EBTH recently sold a Leighton-Jones lithograph of "The Letter" for $20.00.

Question: Is semi vitreous Edwin M. Knowles worth any money?

Answer: Edwin M. Knowles owned a huge pottery factory that was in operation from 1900 - 1963. Knowles produced dishware that featured floral themes, Art Deco themes, plain whiteware, and other simple designs. They closed due competition from cheap imported goods. A second Knowles company, operated buy a business that bought the Knowles name made collectible plates featuring scenes from classic films in the 1980s and 1990s. Your semi-vitreous dishware was from the earlier version.

Search for your pattern online. If you don't know the name of the pattern, you can find lists of Knowles patterns online at Robins Nest or Laurelhollowpark. You can see what the patterns look like by searching on Google image.

There is a lot of Knowles dishware for sale online. Prices vary widely. Check for sold prices on your particular pattern by clicking Advanced search on eBay. Value is only as good as what people are willing to pay. What people ask may not reflect an actual value.

Question: We have Minton reticulated plates painted by Antonin Boullemier. How can I find the value?

Answer: Antonin Boullemier was born in France and studied ceramic painting at several ceramic establishments. He apprenticed at the Sevres National Porcelain Factory before moving to England to work for Minton's. He specialized in painting cherubs.

Interest in older china has fallen off and antique dealers claim they are hard to sell. I imagine the auction house could not give you an estimate because they have no way of knowing if there would be interest in your Minton china at an auction.

You can have an appraisal done at Kovels or Replacements. They will show the retail price of your china. If you want to sell it to them you will earn far less than the retail value but that can be said about any other seller whether an auction house, antique dealer, or consignment shop.

You can learn more about your china if you check out the Minton site (Minton Archive).

Question: I have a box of assorted Fiesta pieces and am having trouble finding a list of values for individual pieces. Do you know where to take my Fiesta dishware for appraisal, as well as the best platform to advertise and sell them?

Answer: Professional appraisals are usually reserved for high-end items. You can learn how to value your Fiesta by learning more about each piece. The popular, colorful dinnerware was produced for many years. Introduced by Homer Laughlin in 1936, Fiestaware went through many changes over time including changes to colors, shapes, cup handles, and contour. Production ceased in 1973 but was revived in 1973.

You can learn about each piece by checking out the mark on the bottom as the mark style changed over the years as well. Learning colors and styles will help you date your items as well. You can learn all about Fiestaware by locating several books on the topic including:

"The Collector's Encyclopedia of Fiesta" by Bob Huxford and Sharon Huxford

" Warman's Fiesta: Identification and Price Guide" by Glen Victorey

"Fiesta: The Homer Laughlin China Company's Colorful Dinnerware" by Jeffrey B. Snyder

Remember that price guides do not reflect current values. You can find values at auction and sales sites online. How you choose to sell them depends on how much work you want to put into selling vs convenience. Online sales will take a bit of work. Selling to a dealer or through a consignment shop will not earn you as much as they will want a good percentage of the sales price.

Question: I have several pieces of milk glass, is there any value?

Answer: Milk glass has been around for hundreds of years but became very popular during the late Victorian era. Oddly enough, it also came in colors like black, blue, and green. It fell out of favor during the Great Depression. In the 1960s, Fenton Glass introduced its Hobnail pattern; milk glass covered with raised, rounded dots that ushered in a new age of popularity. Companies created tons of the newly popular glass which were a favorite with florists.

The best value for milk glass is in older, Victorian pieces. One Atterbury covered dish that featured a boar's head recently sold on eBay for $910.00. Items with images of iconic cultural figures, attractive advertisements, sets, and rare pieces are valuable. Old French milk glass is particularly sought after.

I see plenty of late 20th-century milk glass in thrift stores for one dollar or less. The cheap thrift store pieces are popular to use at weddings due to their cost, the ability to match pieces that don't really match (they are all the same color), and their white color.

To learn more about the pieces you have, check out some books including:

"The Milk Glass Book" by Frank Chiarenza

"Collector's Encyclopedia of Milk Glass" by Betty and Bill Newbound

Once you identify your glass, shop for sold prices at online shops or auction sites for comparison.

Question: I have a collection of Blue Willow dinner wear, what is it worth?

Answer: You are going to have to do some research on the value of Blue Willow. The pattern was created by Thomas Minton in 1780 and variations of the pattern have been produced by hundreds of companies ever since. Based on the ideal of Chinese porcelain which was hugely popular in the 1700s, the blue and white transferware emulates an Asian design. British potters even created a story about two star crossed lovers as a marketing ploy. It is probably the most popular pattern ever and is still being produced today.

Typical Blue willow features two birds at the top of the pattern and includes a leaning willow tree, a boat on a river, a bridge with three men, and a tea house set on a hill. There are many variations in the patterns which include the placement of the typical motifs, the shade of blue, and the border.

Best value would be for older, unique pieces;and pieces made in England between 1780 - 1840.

Learn about your own dishware by reading up on the many variations of the pattern in a book. There are many books on the topic out there including:

"Blue Willow" by Mary Frank Gaston

"Willow Ware" by Leslie Bockol

"Willow Ware" by Jennifer A. Lindbeck

Learn to identify age, pattern variation, and producer. You need to research maker's marks or backstamps found on the bottom of your plates. The International Willow Collectors club is a great resource for images, information, meetings, and conventions where you can learn more about your Blue willow.

Question: If I have plates from the 18th-century and want to sell them, where would I go?

Answer: Before you attempt to sell your 18th-century plates, you must do some research. Educate yourself on the types of plates that you have. Learn about any marks that will help you identify the plates. Some dishware from that time is more valuable than others. Some books can help you, such as:

"18th Century English Porcelain" by Geroge Savage

"Marks and Monograms on Pottery and Porcelain" by William Chaffers

Of course, there are many others and some that relate to specific manufacturers.

As values vary greatly, you want to do this before you take your items to an appraiser. An appraisal can be expensive, but if you have determined that your plates are valuable, you should do this. If your pieces are quite valuable, approach a high-end auction house that specializes in antique porcelain. Send them photos and any information that you have, including scanned copies of appraisals. They will tell you if they will accept the pieces for auction, give you an estimate of the sale price, and let you know the percentage of the sale they will charge you. Expect to part with one-third of the selling price.

If your pieces are not high-quality, you can offer them to a reputable dealer who specializes in antique porcelain. By this time, you should have some idea of value, so you will know if you are being offered a fair price. Some dealers accept items on consignment.

Question: Do you know if the Japanese Co. "Casual Ceram" used lead in their dishes? They were in production from the 1960s - 1980s.

Answer: Lead found in dishware usually is associated with bright colors. Cadmium was also used to highlight bright colors. I can not vouch for Casual Ceram dishes. Do not rely on inexpensive test kits found at hardware stores. These cheap lead test kits are for lead testing paints, not dishware. When in doubt, do not use suspected dishware.

Question: I have a small bowl stamped made in England by the Ogilvie Flour Mill Co Ltd. I have tried to look up the company but no luck. It is beige with three groupings of flowers....any recommendations?

Answer: The only Ogilvie Flour Mill Company that I can find was a Canadian business known for their fine flour. In the 1920s, they commissioned products to use as promotions for their company. The Medalta Potteries created measuring cups, pitchers, and sugar bowls with the name Ogilivie Flour Mill Company. The Medalta Pottery was also located in Canada.

Comments

Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on July 22, 2020:

Hi Mona - If your dishes are thin, with a warm white background, and translucent when held up to a light they are bone china. Porcelain shows a brighter white background and is not translucent when held up to light.

You can find most of the books I suggest used online. Some you can find at your local library. I hope you enjoy researching your dishes, it can be so interesting. Thanks!

Mona Gonzalez on July 20, 2020:

Thank you very much for your advice, Dolores. I love Hummel figurines, we used to have a couple of them but things get lost or break. I will look up more about these dishes. One thing, they are so thin and weigh less than our normal dishes, so I wondered if maybe they are fine bone china, if only for the word fine, hahaha. Anyway, thank you for leading me to these books. Those and 20 more years should do us quite a bit of good, just in knowing their relation to history.

Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on July 20, 2020:

Items marked "Occupied Japan" were made in Japan from 1945 - 1951. Most dishware items, figurines, and kitchen ware were based on Western motifs such as Hummel style figurines. While many such items were kitchy dime store wares, some are high quality. If you want to learn more about products made in Occupied Japan, find a book to help you learn more.

"Occupied Japan for Collectors" by Florence Archambault (1992)

"The Collectors Encyclopedia of Occupied Japan Collectibles" by Gene Florence

are two. Do not use these books for values as they were written during the collectible craze of the late 20th century.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on July 19, 2020:

I have plates that say they were from the Japanese occupation. These plates are really fine so we don't use them, as they might break. I figure the Japanese occupied the Philippines in 1941, so maybe in 21 years, the plates will be 100 years old, officially qualifiable as antiques. Is there anything else that you would know about Japanese Occupation dishware?

Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on May 27, 2020:

Spode produced Rosalie in a variety of colors with small differences from 1894 - 1969 with the most popular version made in the 1930s. You can find more information in a book "Spode and Copeland Marks" by Robert Copeland. You can also learn how to decipher marks by looking for Spode History Dating Spode Pieces online.

Cathy Griffin on May 22, 2020:

I have a plate from England it has Copeland on top, Spode in the middle and Rosalie on the bottom is there any information on this plate.

Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on March 23, 2020:

The dish does not seem the right size for a sugar bowl. I think it may be a powder bowl or powder puff bowl. Women used to keep loose powder in a small, wide bowl on their vanities. The bowls are often a part of a vanity or dresser set which may include a small tray, brush, hand mirror, or other accessories.. Powder bowls were made in porcelain, glass, silver, or Bakelite.

Heidi on March 21, 2020:

Hi, I have a dish I can't identify, it seems like a sugar bowl, but I have no lid. I believe it's porcelain. It is two and a half inches tall, and the rim is four and a half inches across. It is white with a small delicate blue flower with leaves on each side. On the bottom there is an ink stamp that I think says "DORA" or "DORAL". Handwritten by family it says "Mother 1900"

Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on November 14, 2019:

Myott was a family business established in 1898 in Staffordshire, England. They produced hand painted decorative ceramics in the 1920s - 40s in Art Deco and geometric designs often in fall colors like brown and orange as well as blue and red.

In the 1940s they produced tableware for the Cunard line. They made inexpensive tableware including blue and white Appletree in the 1930s, and Finlandia (a copy of Royal Copenhagen's Blue Lace, Old Willow in the 1960s, and a line of transferware featuring English country scenes.

You can find tons of Myott for sale online. Most sites will show the backstamp so you can search for your mark by highlighting the backstamp. Prices for platters range from $9.00 to $30.00.

Regina Mason on November 12, 2019:

I have an Antique Serving tray made by Myott, son &co made in England, its hand painted and has a number 7887. Can you tell me what it would sell for. I do have pictures but not sure where to send.

Thank you

Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on July 23, 2018:

Hi Kim - Noritake Grayburn #5323 was produced from 1953 - 1962. Check out online sites like ebay, or other auction sites for some clues. You can also check out their value at Worthpoint, Replacements, or Kovels online.

The word Pagoda appears in many types of dishware. Refine your search by describing color and pattern in the Google search bar.

Kim Wurtz on July 18, 2018:

I have 2 sets of china that I need to value and possible rehome...

One I have found on line - Noritake Grayburn 5323

The Other just says Pagota ... any idea how to price this one?

Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on April 17, 2018:

Hi Kat - check out gray Delamere, Fleur de Lys, Colonel Gray, Primrose, or Gray Delhi. You can also use a book - "Spode and Copeland Over Two Hundred Years of Fine China and Porcelain" by Steven Smith. There is a lot of information out there on Spode Copeland. They made so many beautiful patterns!

Kat on April 16, 2018:

I just purchased a large set of Copeland Spode earthenware. It’s a gray and white floral transfer print of delicate flowers and leaves. It’s quite lovely and I would like to know the name of the pattern and the value. I have not been able to find this pattern online anywhere. Any ideas?