J. Roderick MacArthur's strategy for establishing a stock market-like secondary market for limited edition collector plates proved wildly popular. Collectors began looking at porcelain art as more than wall décor–it became an investment as well as a hobby. Today’s market has become more complex, but Bradford still serves as the authoritative source on secondary market collectible plates. So if you’ve purchased one or more issues from the Chicago-based company and wish to sell them, you have many options.
Follow protocols the Bradford Exchange has recommended for more than four decades: don’t put your collector plates on the market until you've tried to locate the outer boxes and certificates of authenticity. You’ll need these original materials to get top dollar for your merchandise.
Learn the current value of your Bradford Exchange plates so there are no surprises down the road. Don’t limit your search to a single source. Find a standard reference guide such as the “Collectibles Market Guide & Price Index” or the “Price Guide to Limited Edition Collectibles.” Visit appropriate websites to scan selling prices (link below) and follow prompts to register your art on both the official Bradford Exchange website (link below) and independent plate seller sites.
Peruse magazines devoted to the hobby of collecting limited edition plates. Place an ad in the classified pages so folks looking for additions to their collections can find you. Bring Bradford plates to flea markets, swap meets, antique stores and other types of venues that attract shoppers looking to add a missing plate or two to their personal collections or to find hard-to-locate plate art for friends and relatives.
Visit eBay to see how Bradford Exchange-distributed plates and series of plates are doing on this popular site. Search fields by your plate’s series name, plate name, artist or manufacturer. Look for the back stamp affixed by the studio on the reverse side of the plate to find the exact name of the producer.
Consider splitting up your Bradford series if you’re unable to sell the entire collection. Compare the current value of plate No. 1 to subsequent issues in the series and you’ll likely find a bigger market for the introductory piece. Finding a buyer for that first plate means you'll be able to follow up later and see if they’d like to own the other plates in the series.
Ask your accountant about the possibility of donating your plates to a charitable fund raiser. You'll get them out of the closet and into the hands of those looking to fill in collections while writing off a portion of the value of your collection for tax purposes.
Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.