According to the website Antique Plates Collector, the earliest form of ceramic work was found in China in the 7th century. Since then, china, or porcelain, plates have been a symbol of wealth and class and valued by collectors for their beauty, delicacy and history. One of the oldest known porcelain factories is the Josiah Spode Factory in Staffordshire, England, which opened in 1776, with hundreds in operation since that time. There are a few methods to determine the date of antique plates.
Prepare yourself to correctly identify information about the plate by obtaining a reference book that includes detailed information and photographs, such as “Hand Painted Porcelain Plates: Nineteenth Century to the Present” by Richard Rendall and Elise Abrams or “The Smithsonian Illustrated Library of Antiques Porcelain” by Jerry E. Patterson.
Turn the plate over and look for a maker’s mark, which is the primary form of identification on an antique plate. The maker’s mark may look like a symbol, name, picture or signature and might be stamped, incised, or glazed onto the plate.
Look up the maker’s mark in reference materials or online at websites such as Antique Marks.com and My Granny’s Attic Antiques.com. These resources will help identify the probable date of the plate’s production.
Take note of the plate’s decorative pattern, particularly if you cannot find or understand the maker’s mark on the bottom of the plate. Look up the pattern at websites such as Replacements.com to find more information about the plate, including the date of manufacture.
Bring the plate to an experienced antique dealer for assistance if you cannot determine the date of the plate from the pattern or maker’s mark. Search local listings for antique stores that sell porcelain or china plates and call to inquire if they can offer help before you go. If they cannot help you, ask if they can refer someone who can.