Porcelain Collectibles: A Guide to Starting a Collection

by whatsmind

An early form of porcelain first appeared in China during the Tang dynasty—almost 1,000 years ago. Since then, various civilizations and craftspeople refined the material, using it to create everything from delicate tea cups to treasured porcelain dolls.

People have been coveting porcelain collectibles for almost as long as porcelain has been around. And that’s because porcelain wares come in an almost endless variety of shapes, colors, applications, and ages.

Below, we provide a guide to help you start collecting porcelain or grow your current collection.

Decide What You Want to Collect

Like any collectible item, there is a wide variety of possible areas you can focus on within the broader frame of “porcelain.” It doesn’t really matter which you collect, so long as the objects inspire you.

Some of the most commonly collected porcelain items include:

  • Figurines and sculptures
  • Chinese porcelain
  • Japanese porcelain
  • Tableware
  • Porcelain dolls
  • Vintage porcelain
  • Porcelain tiles
  • Scientific instruments
  • Bathroom fixtures

For example, a medical student might focus on collecting old medical tools crafted from porcelain, while a vintage fashionista might focus on porcelain hairpins from the 18th century.

Know Your Porcelain Types

Pieces of porcelain can generally be sorted into three clay types: bone china, soft-paste porcelain, and hard-paste porcelain.

Bine china is durable porcelain that traditionally includes animal bone. It’s most commonly used in items intended for everyday use, like tableware.

Hard-paste porcelain is fine and glassy. It is considered “true porcelain,” having first been produced in China around the 7th century. This blog on Chinese porcelain explains more about the uniqueness of this prized material.

Soft-paste porcelain is slightly lower in quality and weaker than its superior counterpart.

Understanding Maker’s Marks

Before you start building your collection, you must learn how to identify your chosen porcelain objects, year of release, or country of origin.

Pottery of any kind, and especially porcelain, features maker’s marks. Manufacturers have used these for centuries—even millennia—to ensure people can identify their products in the marketplace.

There are numerous guidebooks and websites with lists of porcelain makers’ marks. Find them with a quick Google search or visit your local library.

Know Where to Buy Porcelain

The final step on the road to building an enviable porcelain collection is knowing where to source authentic items.

Places include:

  • Antique stores (online or offline)
  • Trade shows
  • Flea and antique markets
  • Online or offline auctions
  • Facebook marketplace
  • Craigslist

If you’re interested in purchasing rare or expensive items, you can trust highly reputable sellers—such as Christie’s or Sotheby’s—to do the research for you. If you’re buying from a flea market stand, you need to know what it is you’re looking at and be prepared to bargain.

Porcelain Collectibles: Buy What You Like

Whether you’re into the Wade figurines by Red Rose Tea or ancient Chinese tableware, the advice is the same. Do your research to ensure what you’re buying is authentic, but, at the end of the day, what’s most important is that you get joy from your porcelain collectibles.

For more advice on collectible porcelain of all kinds, rummage through the other blogs on our website.

For more information, visit whatsmind.com

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