Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire consists of five towns that are collectively known as the Potteries. This is because the area is famous for the production of china and pottery. Many of the potteries have closed down, with much of this industry now located outside the United Kingdom. Many famous names such as Spode, Wedgewood, Crown and Coalport are associated with the potteries.
It is still possible to collect Staffordshire pottery, though some pieces, particularly Clarice Cliffe, have become expensive. It is also relatively easy to roughly date and value many pieces, as identifying markers were added particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Buy a good reference book to help you look for specific markers on your pottery. Look at the base of the piece. If you see "Made in England," this means that the piece was manufactured in the twentieth century, probably after 1914. If you see "Ltd." or "Limited," this signifies that the piece was manufactured after 1880. You may also see a registration number. Registration of designs began in 1884. The registration number dates when the design was registered, but the piece may have been made after this.
Look for the name of the manufacturer, which may be on the base of the piece. This can be a key identifying feature, as it may be that the particular manufacturer was only making particular pieces during a limited time span. Look for a trademark. If this is present it indicates that the pottery or china piece was made after 1875. Any piece with "Royal Arms" is nineteenth century or later.
Check for the name of the pattern. This was only added after 1810. Bone china was made beginning in the twentieth century in Staffordshire. A simple quartered shield on the base indicates a piece dating after 1837. If there is an extra section in the centre of the shield this dates the piece as prior to 1837.