How to Identify English Bone China

By Catherine Hiles
Most English bone china, a hallmark
cup of tea image by Victor M. from

England is renowned for its bone china and has been since it first became popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. Popular manufacturers included Spode, Wedgwood, Royal Albert, Royal Doulton and Minton. English bone china is made similarly to porcelain but with the addition of ground-up animal bones, hence the name "bone" china. Bone china chips less easily than hard-paste porcelain and is more hardwearing. Several clues will help you determine whether a piece of china is true English bone china.

Hold the piece of china up to the light. Bone china, while extremely hard, allows light to pass through it.

Check the piece of china for a stamp identifying the manufacturer. Use a magnifying glass if necessary. Look for marks that are impressed into the clay underneath the glaze, or handpainted/printed either above or beneath the glaze. Look for names like Wedgwood, Royal Doulton and Spode.

Take your piece of china to an antique store. Ask a professional to examine the piece to see whether it is true English bone china.