Got some antique china tableware lying around the house, perhaps that you’ve inherited or picked up at a car boot sale? Then it might be prudent to find out its value – you could be sitting on a fortune!
The problem is it’s often difficult to differentiate between cheap or imitation china tableware and the authentic stuff. Indeed, many people return home from an antique shopping trip thinking they’ve picked up a real bargain, only to discover that their china tableware is not very old and pretty much worthless, whereas others make a purchase believing it to be simply a pretty piece of kitsch, and are given a pleasant surprise when they find they’ve actually come into possession of a prized Wedgwood or Worcester.
To help you discern whether you hold in your hands the genuine article or a merely a clever knock-off, we’ve put together a few handy pieces of advice…
Tip 1 – Look for a stamp of authenticity
This should be your first port of call. Turn your plate or cup over and examine the bottom. Is it stamped or marked? Take care to look very closely as marks can be extremely small. Use a magnifying glass if required. If there is a stamp or a marking (this may be painted or engraved), you should be able to identify the manufacturer the piece was produced by. If it’s a reputable name, chances are you’re in luck.
But remember, stamps can also be relatively easily forged, and not all stamped pieces are antiques (and by the same token, not all antiques are stamped)…
Tip 2 – Examine the characteristics of your china tableware
So even if you’ve found a stamp, or noticed the conspicuous absence of one, you’ll need to continue your examination in order to verify the piece’s authenticity. If your piece is a plate, firstly observe its shape. Antique plates produced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were typically round, and were either rim plates (with a second circle indented within the plate), or coupe (featuring a round but frilled edge).
With any type of tableware, you should also examine the patterns and decorations found on it. A quick search on the internet and you may be able to identify the manufacturer and value by comparing your pattern to images of other pieces. If you have a set of china tableware, ensure the pattern is consistent (identical) across all of its constituents.
Tip 3 – Conduct further in-depth research
Once you have appraised your fine bone china, and have hopefully identified a manufacturer, you can do further research online and at the local library to try and identify its age. If you’ve got a stamp or marker and know which manufacturer the piece belongs to, you ought to be able to narrow down a production date by noting and cross-referencing the style and colour of the stamp with images of the company’s official seal as it has changed through time.
Stamps also often contain numbers which correspond to different dates of manufacture. www.williamedwards.co.uk offers authentic and beautiful fine bone china.
Any books on antiques in your local library may also help you to identify the age or manufacturer of unstamped pieces by providing images by which to cross-reference patterns and shapes.
By Harry Price
Harry Price is a young and successful entrepreneur. He enjoys travelling, personal training and playing football. He also firmly believes in giving back and often volunteers at his local charities in South England.