The value of Hamilton collector plates depends on the subject matter, artist, the number of plates fired and the year they were produced. Listed "book values" versus what other collectors will pay for them are also markedly different. In other words, a plate's true worth might not be what a book lists it at, but what a collector is willing to pay.
By The Book
A plethora of books are devoted to collector plates, and Hamilton issues are included in them. Some of the books are outdated, however; consult the guide's publication date for the most recent material. The guides are available through on-line retailers, in antique stores, and in book stores. Other venues to check a particular plate's value is through the Internet, particularly on-line auction houses such as eBay. Often the best way to search for a particular plate's current selling price is to "search" that plate on the Internet.
The Numbers Game
Hamilton collector plates come with a wealth of information, and the numbers play a part in any one plate's value. A plate is limited to a certain number of firing days and a certain number of copies. As a general rule, the fewer days a design is fired and the fewer plates that are produced, the more valuable the plates are. The more rare the plate, the better the value. In addition, each plate is numbered, and lower numbered plates are more valuable. command.
Documentation Plays a Part
Hamilton plates come with paperwork, including certificates of authenticity that discuss the number of firing days and contain other information. Collectors who retain the original paperwork and packaging can command more for the plates. The condition of a given plate is also key--scratches and other flaws will downgrade the value.
Plate Subject Matter
Some of the more valuable Hamilton collector plates trading on the Internet are the ones that showcase "Star Wars", "Star Trek," "The Wizard of Oz" and "I Love Lucy." The "Star Wars" plates, particularly one of the early space battle scenes, commands hundreds of dollars in antique stores and Internet sites. Among the Hamilton plate subjects are cats, dogs, angels, Christmas, Halloween, Disney, Elvis, dragons, inspirational, science-fiction, fantasy, "Gone With the Wind," sports stars, Marilyn Monroe, NASCAR, military, Precious Moments and Thomas Kinkade.
The Secondary Market
Collecting Hamilton plates, or plates by other companies such as the Bradford Exchange, is a little like playing the stock market. Plates' values fluctuate any given month or year depending on what buyers are looking for or what is going on in the world at the time. Current market value of a particular plate "today," could be quite a bit up or down from its market value six months later.
The majority of Hamilton plates issued are collected for sentimental reasons: an individual loves the breed of dog featured on a series; the collector of firefighter plates is a long-time firefighter; the science-fiction buff treasures all things "Star Trek." To these collectors a particular plate has a higher value, and matching the person with the plate can yield a higher sales price.
Jean Rabe has worked in journalism since 1979, serving as a reporter, bureau chief and magazine editor. She has written 27 novels, including "The Finest Creation" and "The Finest Challenge," while her true-crime book, "When the Husband is the Suspect," was written with F. Lee Bailey. Rabe has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Northern Illinois University.