Monday, April 30, 2012

Collecting Porcelain

By Teresa Simon

Blue Gold Porcelain Pitcher

Collecting Porcelain is a refined art. Identifying a genuine piece and knowing what to cherish are aspects best guided by a modest knowledge of some special marks and marker’s techniques.

How do you tell whether your hand-held piece is a genuine find of porcelain?

The primary rule says: A piece of dainty porcelain should always be approached with confidence. The impression to be given at all times should be that you are aware of the priceless piece that you handle. The next step then is to determine the age of the piece and to make sure its true worth. Turn to the bottom of the piece and look for the telltale ‘mark’. There are approximately 1500 odd ceramic (pottery & porcelain) marks that one can look for on porcelain! And to remember or even to make out one from the next is a Herculean task unless you are a keen observer with a computer memory!!

Blue & White Porcelain Flat Vase

However, many collectors generally rely upon such marks, Jerry Patterson in his book, “Porcelain”, says that the absence of a mark or the irregularity of a mark does not necessarily lessen the value of the piece. Chelsea porcelain, like Derby (1748-1784) with its concentration on figures and ornamentals, was marked with a carved triangle. Later periods are also known by their marks: the 'raised anchor' from 1749 to 1752, the 'red anchor' from 1752 to 1756 and the gold anchor from 1756 to 1769. 

Chinese Perfume Bottle Blue &White Porcelain - China Kangxi(1662-1722)

Chinese Qianlong Period Rockefeller Export Famille Rose Porcelain Plate (made around 1790)

Often a black light is used to authenticate the antique value of the piece. Its ultraviolet rays make it possible to view that characteristic of an artefact that is invisible to the naked eye. It can be used to determine whether a painted object is an antique or a newer reproduction as well as to determine whether a piece has been "touched up" and if so, how extensive was the repair. Old finish will not glow under a black light, while the newer material in the repair will. Generally, hard paste porcelain will fluoresce a deep blue or purple colour, while soft paste will fluoresce white.

Quick Tips:
·         The British royal family has been well represented, with Britain producing more royal commemorative souvenirs – an all-time favourite with collectors of porcelain. 

British Royal Wocaster Bird Jug - Ewer1 Royal Worcester Porcelain

·         Among the earliest commemorative souvenirs to be produced were blue and white chargers (large flat dishes) that were made in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Decorated with simple looking, or what is referred to as 'na├»ve' portraits, these were hand painted and made in small numbers, and are now worth several thousand pounds. 

An Antique Blue and White Porcelain Teapot Dated-1890

·         With the advent of transfer printing, souvenirs could be produced cheaply, quickly and in greater numbers. In 1981, 15,000 differently designed ceramics were made for the wedding of Prince Charles and the Princess of Wales.

Royal Wedding Image: courtesy 

·         The trick, however, is to look for unusual events or anomalies, which are the exception rather than the rule, for example, the coronation mug for Edward VII.

Early 18th Century Tin Glazed Earthenware Plate with Figures in a Garden Decoration.

·         Always try to buy pieces that are in good or preferably pristine condition, as quality, condition and rarity will influence the value of the item.

Exceptionally Well Preserved, Large, Genuine 18th Century Qing Dynasty Chinese Blue and White (Ming Style) Porcelain Vase. Perfect for a Floral or Foliage Display!

·         To test whether the piece has been restored, tap or 'ping' it and listen for a clear, bright sound.
·         Visit your local library. Many objects have maker's marks, which are a primary source of information, so books on English pottery, porcelain and silver, for example, will be immediately helpful. 

Various Marks

·         Knowledge of your subject will be invaluable, and can be assembled by visiting museums with commemorative collections and by attending auction views.

Info & Photographs: Courtesy World Wide Web

1 comment :

  1. I have a very similar vase to the 18 qcentury Qing blue and white (Ming style)
    Any idea of the value?


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