The Jewel Tea Company was started in 1899 by Frank Vernon Skiff, who started his business with an investment of $700 for his product and a wagon in which to haul it. He began a door-to-door sales campaign selling fresh teas, spices and coffee, which later blossomed into a full-fledged company by 1914, with a national reputation. Skiff launched a Home Services division at the company's Illinois headquarters, and appointed Ms. Mary Dunbar as head of the division. She helped develop the Homemaker's Institute, which became a distinctive marketing force for Jewel Tea. There are several online and print resources to help collectors to value Jewel Tea dishware.
Determine the particular pattern of your Jewel Tea dishware. As of 1995, the most sought-after pattern for collectors was the Autumn Leaf collection, manufactured by Hall China Company of Liverpool, Ohio from 1933 to 1976, and it was sold exclusively by door-to-door salesmen. Other patterns made by Hall for Jewel Tea include the Cameo Rose pattern, manufactured from 1951 to 1973, and the Orange Poppy pattern manufactured from 1933 to 1953.
Consult print and online resources to correctly identify the pattern of your dishware. Replacements, Ltd. supplies a comprehensive listing of china, silver and crystal patterns with manufacturers' information, dates of manufacture, descriptions and photos. An excellent print resource compiled by avid Jewel Tea collector C.L. Miller is "The Jewel Tea Company: Its History and Products -- With Price Guide," which features numerous photos, or spend time perusing Jeffrey B. Snyder's "Hall China -- A Schiffer Book for Collectors."
Examine your dishware for flaws. Scratches, chips, cracks, faded colors and worn-off silver, gold or platinum borders can lower the value of your dishware. Dishware considered by collectors to be in mint condition (free of any flaws), as with most collectibles, will be worth more money.
Take your Jewel Tea dishware or photos of the pieces to a local antique dealer. They are often more than willing to share their knowledge of dating, identification and pricing of antiques, and may point you in the right direction for additional sources of information. If you have a piece that is difficult to identify, antique dealers are more likely to recognize a manufacturer's mark, which helps in the identification and dating process.
Check with online auction sites like eBay or OldandSold.com to see how much collectors and buyers are paying for dishware similar to your collection. Evaluate some of the online retail antique dealers, such as Ruby Lane, Replacements, Ltd. and Don's Jewel Tea Shoppe to value your Jewel Tea dishware. Kovels.com is another helpful online source for identifying, dating and valuing your collectible dishware pieces.