The world economy affects the value of fine bone china, but the quality of this translucent porcelain keeps the demand high. Many English companies have produced fine bone china since 1820, and one of the keys to identification is the word “Royal” as part of the company name. Royal Albert’s “Old Country Roses” is on Harry Rinker’s “Top 500 Patterns of the 20th Century” list and has been a popular and collectible bone china pattern that has held its value for several years. Many of the serving pieces in this dinnerware pattern are valued at $100 or more. Your fine bone china may be even more valuable.
Look carefully at the fine bone china; check the condition with a magnifying glass. Check for chips or cracks, but also look for losses. If there is gold on the rim or handle, check for wear to the gold. Hold flat pieces like saucers and plates horizontally at eye level. Look across the flat surface to check for scratches.
Identify the maker and pattern name. Whether antique or modern, most fine bone china production comes from England, although Harry Rinker reports in “Dinnerware of the 20th Century: The Top 500 Patterns,” that a few Scandinavian and American factories have made bone china successfully. Fine bone china is usually marked on the bottom with a back stamp that identifies it as bone china. However, if there is doubt, the easiest test is to hold it to the light to see the translucence and the light visible through the porcelain. Check the back stamp for the maker and identify the pattern online.
Find actual sales of similar pieces of fine bone china by your found maker and in the condition your china is in. Check auction sites for completed auctions, not current ones. Look for actual sales in online marketplaces or stores, to see if the pieces are currently available or discontinued. Take notes of the realized price of recent sales.
Attempt to establish the popularity of the pattern from your research. Once these steps are completed, use your judgment to draw conclusions as to the value. Remember that price and value are not the same. The prices you find may be high or low as compared to actual value. Prices realized from actual recent sales are the best guidelines for value for the owner of fine bone china, but an appraiser would give consideration to the purpose of the appraisal and market trends.
Locate an appraiser through the International Society of Appraisers (ISA) or the Appraisers Association of America. (AAA) An appraiser with a specialty in porcelain would be the best source for valuation of bone china for insurance purposes or for charitable donations, but values can be researched online and in books for your personal collection of fine bone china.
- “Dinnerware of the 20th Century: The Top 500 Patterns”; Harry Rinker; 1997
- Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice: Table of Contents
- International Society of Appraisers
- Appraisers Association of America
- "Miller’s Antiques Encyclopedia"; ed. Judith Miller; 1998
Linda Richard has been a legal writer and antiques appraiser for more than 25 years, and has been writing online for more than 12 years. Richard holds a bachelor's degree in English and business administration. She has operated a small business for more than 20 years. She and her husband enjoy remodeling old houses and are currently working on a 1970s home.