How to Identify China Hallmark
The bottom of a piece of china holds a lot of useful information. These marks can tell you who made the piece and the name of the pattern. The manufacturer’s name is often printed on the bottom. Sometimes, the pattern name will be there as well. However, if you have trouble identifying the manufacturer or the pattern, following a few easy steps will help you to discover either or both of these.
Understand why it is important to correctly identify your china’s maker and pattern. If you want to add to your collection, it is obviously important to know what to look for. If you plan to sell your china, knowing the pattern and maker will help you understand what your pieces are worth. As the website Antique China, Porcelain and Collectibles explains, “Porcelain marks are the fingerprints of antique china. Serving as both evidence of its origin, age, and often times, quality, the maker's mark on a porcelain item is the first place many collectors look before making a purchase.”
Check the bottom of your china and see how much information is there. Hopefully, you will be able to identify the maker of your china. Even if there are only initials, numbers or an emblem rather than a full name, you will be able to use that information to discover the maker. Also, if you have any paperwork that came with your china, check that for information on the pattern and manufacturer.
Visit the library or the bookstore. Look for guides on collecting or identifying china, such as the “Pictorial Guide to Pottery and Porcelain Marks,” by Chad Lage, “Lehner's Encyclopedia of U.S. Marks on Pottery, Porcelain and Clay,” by Lois Lehner, or “The Official Price Guide to Pottery and Porcelain,” by Joe L. Rosson.
Search the Internet. There are online guides for china identification, such as Marks4Ceramics.com. Replacements Limited offers a large selection of china, in both new and discontinued patterns. If you know the manufacturer of your china, you may be able to recognize your pattern by looking through their selection. Also, companies such as this are willing to help you identify your pattern if you can send them a photo, digital image or photocopy of the front and back of your china.
Take your piece to an antiques store that specializes in china. Often, a knowledgeable shop owner will be able to identify the manufacturer and pattern, or you may be able to identify it yourself by looking at the store’s selection. Online antiques stores can also be helpful sources of information and often have an online guide for identifying china (See resources).
Hunt for an appraiser who specializes in fine china. Local antiques store owners are good sources for finding a reputable professional. These experts will charge you a small fee to identify your china.
- Be on the lookout for fakes if you decide to add to your china collection. The more you know about your maker and pattern, the easier it will be to spot counterfeit pieces.