How to Tell If Old China Dishes Are Valuable

Updated April 17, 2017

The value of old china dishes depends on the company or maker, age, and condition. Some pieces of old, antique or vintage dishes are clearly marked, making them easy to identify. Others may not be marked. Either way, using antique and vintage pottery and porcelain resources, you should be able to determine the value of your old china dishes.

Look for company or maker's marks on your old dishes. The marks may be a name, a number or a symbol, and are generally found on the bottom of plates, bowls, serving pieces, cups and saucers.

Identify the marks using antique pottery and porcelain books or online websites. Some companies that have been in business for a long time may have many different marks. Look carefully to identify the mark exactly like the one on your tableware.

Determine the pattern of your old, antique dishes. Pay attention to the background colour, decoration, and edges or your dishes. Books and online antique and collectable websites will provide examples of identical or similar pieces.

Compare your old, antique or vintage dishes to similar pieces you find in books or online to determine value. If you have found the name of a company or pattern, your search will be easy. Without specific information, compare designs until you find something similar.

Examine your old pottery and porcelain dishes for their condition. Look for chips, cracks and scratches. Also learn the difference between chips in the glaze caused by the object being bumped, and small bubbles that occurred during the glazing and firing process

Fine-tune the estimated value of your old dishes according to their condition. If your pieces are in pristine condition they may be worth more than the items you have located for comparison. Alternatively, if your dishes have extensive signs of wear the value decreases.

Consider local variations in value. For example, a store in New York may charge more for a certain 1930s dinner plate than the same plate would sell for in Biloxi, Mississippi. Alternatively, antique cups and saucers originally belonging to a local family may be worth more locally than in a far-off town.

Things You'll Need

  • Antique and collectable pottery books
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About the Author

Susan Ward, M.A., writes about family, parenting, and children's mental health issues for multiple publications. She has been published in various special interest publications, both in print and online, in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the U.K. since 1989. She's also authored two books and numerous booklets.