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10 valuable antique porcelain patterns and tips to recognize them


Before you drop off the china at the thrift store, take a moment to turn it over and take a closer look. Knowing how to spot valuable antique porcelain marks and identify the patterns you have can mean the difference between giving away a treasure and understanding if you have something special.

If you have inherited or purchased antique porcelain, it is helpful to know how to learn more about your heirlooms. Often the piece contains many clues, and understanding how to read them can help you identify the pattern. From this you can get an idea of ​​the value and history of your china.

Keep an eye out for some super-valuable antique porcelain patterns you might find in stores (or, if you’re lucky, even at flea markets). These are the ones you should look out for depending on the price of a board


Price per dinner plate

Tiffany Cirque Chinois


Bernardaud Chenonceaux cobalt


Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica


Hermes Le Jardin de Pythagore


Bernardaud Parthenon


Tiffany Holiday


Rosenthal Magic Flute Gold


Spode Stafford White


Miessen Dragon Brown


Haviland Beauvallon


Before you can identify the pattern, you need to figure out what type of porcelain you have. Because porcelain production originated in ChinaEuropeans and Americans used the term “china” to describe any fine piece of porcelain. However, there are different types of porcelain, each using a specific production process. Because many manufacturers specialize in one type of porcelain, this can help narrow down the options for your porcelain pattern.

Three types of porcelain

There are three main types of porcelain, all commonly referred to as ‘china’.

  • Bone porcelainBone porcelain originated in England around 1750. There factories such as Spode and Royal Worcester used bone china to make tea sets, vases, tableware and other items. As the name implies, bone china involves the addition of bone ash to a mixture of finely ground stone and clay. The process results in pieces that are incredibly thin and translucent.

  • Hard porcelain – Hard porcelain was the original type produced in China, and it is an important part of ancient Chinese art. This type of porcelain originally contained a clay called kaolin, as well as ground alabaster. Nowadays it often contains quartz. The first European factory to produce hard porcelain was Meissen, a German company that started production in 1710.

  • Soft porcelain – European potteries came up with a recipe for porcelain that did not use kaolin clay from China. Instead, this softer type of porcelain used local clays, specifically clay from the Limoges region of France and used in Limoges-China.

Tips for determining the type


Use these tricks to find out what kind of porcelain you have:

  • Hold the porcelain up to the light. According to Noritakebone china will be much more translucent than other types of porcelain. If you see a lot of light coming through the piece, you most likely have porcelain with bone ash in it.

  • Examine the color. Noritake also notes that the color of porcelain is ivory rather than white. If your piece is pure white, it is more likely to be hard or soft porcelain.

  • Listen to the piece. You can tell the difference between hard and soft porcelain by holding the object with your fingertips and lightly tapping the edge with a coin. If it makes a high pitched sound, it is more likely to be a hard paste.


Most fine china has one identification sign that helps to identify the manufacturer of the piece. Knowing this information is important for identifying the pattern. In many cases there may be more than one stamp on an item, sometimes indicating where the piece was manufactured and where it was painted and glazed. Additionally, stamps provide insight into the date of a piece, as most manufacturers change stamps every few years.

How to find the stamp

In most cases, finding the stamp is easy. Simply turn the piece over and look at the bottom or back. Usually you see symbols and letters, and sometimes there is a raised design.

It may help to use a magnifying glass to enlarge the stamp. You can also take a photo and then use your phone or computer to enlarge the image. Tip: Add contrast to the image to really make the stamp stand out if it is difficult to read.

How to use the backstamp


Once you find the stamp, use a website with a library of stamps and manufacturers to learn more about your piece. The following sites are great for this.

  • Kovels – Kovels, one of the most respected names in antiques, has a complete library of stamps. You can search by the shape of the brand, by initials in the brand, or by words and full names.

  • – If you have Chinese porcelain, this is the site you can use to learn more about your stamp. It contains photos of the brands and information about the manufacturers.

What if there is no backstamp?

Although most fine porcelain has identifying marks, some very early pieces may not have any marks. According to ThePotteries.orga website of Potter and history expert Steve Birks, this was quite common in early porcelain. If your piece does not have a stamp, consider taking it to a professional appraiser for more information about the pattern.

Once you know the manufacturer and type of porcelain, you have most of the information you need to find the pattern name or number. However, many manufacturers made dozens or even hundreds of different cartridges. To save time and avoid having to search through the entire product catalog for your manufacturer, write down some of the most important details in your pattern.

Gold border


Gold or gilded edges are one of the first things you notice when you look at porcelain patterns. Some manufacturers, such as Noritake, are known for pieces with this luxurious detail. Typically, this beautiful gilt paint is applied to the edges of plates, cups, bowls and other pieces. Depending on how the piece has been preserved and the age of the item, the gilt edge may be worn or smudged.

Main color

Although many pieces are white or ivory, there are also a number of porcelain patterns with a background or much of the decoration in a different color. Some shades you may see are black, pink, red, gold, and blue, as in Blue Willow China. Often the back or bottom of these pieces is white.

Other paint colors used

Also note any other important colors in the design. Does it have a black border or a decoration of fuchsia flowers? These details will help you figure out the name or number of the pattern.

Specific motives

Finally, make note of any specific images in the pattern. Consider some of the following:

Related: 5 most valuable collector’s plates and what yours could be worth

If you know the manufacturer and type of porcelain and have taken the time to review the details of your piece, you are ready to find out the pattern number or name. While there isn’t actually a porcelain pattern finder that can help you easily identify your piece, this is a great place to start This site sells replacement pieces for many patterns, and they have an extensive library of patterns with photos. Click on the manufacturer’s name to see a list of cartridges.

You can also look up patterns on manufacturer-specific sites:

  • National Shelley China Club – This is a great place to identify a piece of Shelley porcelain, including the pattern name and date.

  • Meissen China Patterns – If you have a piece of Meissen porcelain, you can find many of the most popular patterns here.

  • Haviland Online – This site provides photos and tips for identifying Haviland china.

Dating is another pretty important part of identification (and definitely a big deal for value, too). In many cases, patterns have been produced continuously for decades or even centuries. This means you may not be able to refine the date range or value for your product antique dish or plate simply by identifying its pattern. Instead, you have to use the stamp to help you. Here’s how:

  1. Once you have identified your cartridge and its manufacturer, visit one of the stamp identification websites listed above.

  2. Use a magnifying glass to really examine the details of the mark and compare it to the stamps used at various points by the manufacturer.

  3. If you find a match, you will have a date range for your piece.

Certain porcelain patterns have stood the test of time and remain popular with collectors for centuries. According to House Beautifulthe following patterns are particularly desirable:

  • Blue Italian – This iconic one transferware pattern contains scenes from Italy. The detailed images are printed in blue on a white background. This pattern has been produced continuously since 1816.

  • Meissen’s Ming dragon – Meissen has been making this Asian-inspired pattern since the mid-18th century. It usually depicts a persimmon-colored Chinese dragon on a white background and has gold borders. Sometimes the dragon is painted in other colors, such as green.

  • Flora Danica from Royal Copenhagen – This detailed pattern is based on botanical art from the 1790s. It is one of the most collectible and valuable porcelain patterns in existence.

  • Deruta’s Raffaellesco – This finely detailed, multicolored pattern was introduced in the 17th century and has enjoyed great popularity for centuries. Floral motifs and gold dragons adorn this white porcelain design.

Related: How to save China to keep it safe

Whether you have a popular and valuable antique porcelain pattern or a rare gem from the past that you love, antique porcelain is a beautiful and valuable part of the dining scene. Knowing how to find out the name or number of your china pattern can give you an idea of ​​your piece’s place in history.

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