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Royal Grafton was founded in England at the turn of the 20th century. The company continued to make fine bone china until 1972, creating a large catalogue of beautiful and diverse patterns. Because many people acquire Royal Grafton china on the secondary market or as a family heirloom, they are often left wondering the name of their particular pattern. A little research can uncover both the pattern name of the value of various pieces of the china.
Study china collecting guides. You will have a hard time finding a book that deals primarily with Royal Grafton china. However, your library or bookstore will have general volumes on collecting English china. An example is “English China Patterns & Pieces (Identification & Values (Collector Books))” by Mary Frank Gaston.
Check with china replacement services. Because Royal Grafton china is no longer in production, the easiest way to see a large selection of the tableware is through replacement services. Most of these companies have placed much of their inventory online, where they feature pattern names and photographs. By looking through such an inventory, you can often identify the name of your pattern. If you cannot find it on your own, many of the companies will offer assistance if you send them a photo of your tableware. Examples of china replacement services include Replacements Limited (U.S.), Tablewhere? (UK), and China Matchers (UK).
Consult an expert. Antiques or collectibles store owners are good sources of information when you need to know more about your china. If they don’t recognise the pattern themselves, they often have their own library of reference books that can be helpful. If you are willing to pay a fee, you can consult an appraiser who can give you pattern and value information. Look for a qualified appraiser through the American Society of Appraisers or the International Society of Appraisers.
Look at online antiques stores. Doing some virtual window shopping is one way to see a lot of china in a short time. By looking through the online inventory of several storefronts, you may be able to spot your pattern. Many times, the store will offer the pattern name and a little about it in their descriptions. Examples of Internet sites that feature a variety of china pieces are Ruby Lane and Go Antiques, which includes shopping and auctions.
Examine the auctions on eBay. Royal Grafton is a big seller on the secondary market. Looking through current and completed auctions on eBay will give you access to pictures of hundreds of pieces of the china, most of which include pattern information. This can help you learn more about your own china and identify the pattern name.
- Henry Gan/Photodisc/Getty Images