People often collect porcelain china to enjoy in their homes. The beautiful plates, cups and saucers are aesthetically pleasing and many china patterns increase in value over time. Popular porcelain china manufacturers include Lenox, Noritake, Royal Doulton, Villery & Boch, Spode and Wedgewood but there are many others. Fine china’s value depends on the age, condition and rarity of the piece. Whether you want to know the value to satisfy your own curiosity or because you plan on selling the china, it is important to get an accurate appraisal.
Identify the china’s manufacturer. Usually, the manufacturer stamps the bottom of dinner plates with their name or other identifying symbol. If you cannot figure out the manufacturer’s name, you may e-mail a photograph of the mark to Replacements, Ltd. (see Resources). A representative will research the symbol and give you the manufacturer’s name. Once you know the manufacturer, refer to a reference book or website to identify the name of the pattern.
Examine each piece of china and note any imperfections. Cracks, bubbles in the finish, discoloration and signs of wear all impact the value. Take careful notes on a piece of paper, or create a spreadsheet so you can easily refer to each item’s condition. If some pieces are damaged or you do not have a complete set, you can find the value for individual pieces.
Visit collectible websites and auctions sites like eBay to get a general idea of the china’s value. Remember that similar pieces will only give you an estimate of what your pieces might be worth. People list items in online auctions with the price they hope to get, not necessarily what they are worth. Look in antique guides or reference books that focus on fine china (such as “Collector's Encyclopedia of English China: Identification & Values” by Mary Frank Gaston ) for more detailed information. Price guides, such as Kovel’s (see Resources) give current pricing information on china from a variety of manufacturers.
Ask a fine china dealer for an official appraisal. If you cannot locate someone who deals specifically with china, start with an antique dealer. If he cannot help you, he will be able to direct you to someone who can assist.
Serving pieces like gravy boats, tea pots, platters and butter dishes tend to be worth more money than place settings, especially if they are in good condition.
Carefully pack your china if you transport it to an appraiser. Wrap each piece in newspaper or bubble wrap to protect it.