Things You'll Need:
- magnifying glass to look for marks
- reference books
- internet access
Antique punch bowls were used during holidays for traditional beverages, and at parties and various formal occasions. They were often large in size, bigger than dinner bowls, and since they were used to hold punch and other colorful beverages of choice, they were elaborately decorated if made from glass, and beautifully crafted. There are various types of antique punch bowls that fall into different collectible genres; from porcelain to cut glass. People sometimes use their antique punch bowls as a beautiful centerpiece for fruits, and as a decorative base for fresh cut flowers.
Look to see if your antique punch bowl is Limoges porcelain. Limoges porcelain is a prized collectible, and punch bowls that were made in Limoges France from the 1800s are sought after by collectors. On antique Limoges porcelain, the piece will often have an under the glaze factory mark, and an over the glaze studio mark; the studio that decorated the piece. Look online to compare marks on Limoges porcelain, and distinguish if yours is antique from modern. Limoges is still in operation today, and considered one of the finest French porcelain manufacturers.
Look at the mark on your silver antique punch bowl. Check to see if it says silver plate or sterling silver. Antique punch bowls that are marked sterling silver can be quite valuable, depending on age. Silver plate is less valuable and often not that old. Look at the hallmark on the bottom. Old antique silver punch bowls will have a set of hallmarks in a row, often with a combination of figural and numerical markings. Go to your local bookstore or reference section in the library. Look up the hallmark in antique silver price guides. You can find out who the manufacturer was, and get an idea of value.
Look to see if you have a Brilliant Period cut glass antique punch bowl. Antique cut glass was intricately well-crafted by hand, and Brilliant Period cut glass (1876-1914) is elaborately detailed. Look for intricate patterns, and shapes on the edges of the cut glass as well. Other glass antique punch bowls to be on the lookout for are Federal glass, Carnival glass, Fostoria, Depression glass and Tiffany.
Feel your crystal antique punch bowl for weight. Try weighing your piece in general. Antique leaded crystal is generally heavier than glass. That is one way to identify an antique crystal punch bowl from glass. Look at your piece under the light. Crystal is clear and polished, with no visible seams.
Bring your antique punch bowl to an appraiser to determine value. Sometimes an antique punch bowl may be worth more with its original cups, often made from the same matching material, such as cut glass. If a piece is rare or in excellent condition, value may still be high even if it's missing the cups. Look in your area for antique experts familiar with antique punch bowl appraisals. Check the yellow pages for appraisers near you.
Linda Stamberger began writing professionally in 1994, as an entertainment reporter for "Good Times Magazine." She has written online copy for The Volusia Community website and is the author of "Antiquing in Florida." Stamberger studied creative writing at Southampton College, where she won a partial writing scholarship.