Antique china or porcelain place settings can be very valuable depending on the age and design. In general, patterns considered to be rare are highly sought after, while more common patterns tend to saturate the market and therefore may not appraise for as high a dollar amount. Read on to learn how to appraise antique china.
Clean your antique china gently. Use warm water, a mild dish detergent and a soft cloth. Pat dry carefully.
Use an identification and price guide to determine where your antique china hails from. A source with plenty of photographs detailing china patterns and manufacturer's marks will be the most helpful. The Kovels website has extensive information identifying more than 300 types of pottery and porcelain. See the Resources section below for a link.
Examine your china with a magnifying glass. Record any chips, cracks, scratches, discolorations or other blemishes. These imperfections will be important factors used to appraise your item.
Locate the maker's mark or emblem on your piece. Usually it is found on the bottom of the china. There may also be a production year, which is important information for an appraiser. Dating your item accurately may sometimes tell you that your china is a reproduction, and not actually an antique.
Photograph your antique china, including the maker's marks and years on the bottom of the item. Be sure to take pictures of any imperfections that you have noted. A pictorial record of your antiques helps the appraiser value the item. Pictures also become a permanent record for you in case of loss or theft.
Make an appointment with an appraiser specializing in antique porcelain, pottery or china. Tell him what you know about the piece. Show him the list you have made and pictures you have taken. He will probably need to keep your antique for a period of time in order to authenticate and appraise it.
If your antique china appraises at a very high price, consider purchasing an insurance policy for it. This will protect you in case of loss or damage.
Do not use bleach or lemon dish detergent on your antique china. The chemicals will harm the finish. Expect your appraisal value to vary from that found in identification guides. Values listed in price guides refer to antiques in pristine condition. Most antiques are not found in perfect condition, especially if they have been used regularly.