So many types of collectible plates are on the market, it’s tough to keep track of the new arrivals, much less identify older limited edition or commemorative plates. Bradford Exchange, Danbury Mint, and Franklin Mint are the major producers of collectible plates, but many smaller companies produce plates with reproductions of famous paintings, pop culture icons, or nature scenes. If you have a collector plate and want to identify the series or manufacturer, or if you're looking for a particular plate, here are some sleuthing techniques to help you.
Compare the plate with photos and descriptions on eBay and other websites. Do a search for the plate by name (if you know it) or description. Hundreds of websites, forums, and blogs are dedicated to collectors plates, so you can easily find photos matching the plate you have (or the plate you want).
Peruse popular price guidebooks and websites. Collectors Books, House of Collectibles, and Kovels publish yearly price guides with photos, dates, and number of plates produced, along with current prices according to plate condition. You can find the value of most popular plates this way.
Visit collector’s shows to talk to experts. Contact authorities at local collector conventions and flea markets to inspect your plate in person. You may be able to sell plates there too.
Check with a professional appraiser. You can have plates appraised online by submitting a photo video or description of your plate by email to Online Collectibles or other large, verified online collector sites. If you think your plate is valuable, contact an appraiser at your local antique store.
Use Bradex numbers and other methods to identify a limited-edition collectors’ plate. A manufacturer produces limited number of plates, then destroys the template, A Bradex number, imprinted on the back of the plate, is used for popular Bradford Exchange plates. This number consists of the word Bradex is followed by numbers that indicate the country of origin, manufacturer, and series. This pinpoints the exact history of the plate more explicitly than a mere serial number.