Make copies of the marks on the bottom of your china. Draw all the marks you see, or take photographs. One pattern research website suggests carefully photocopying marks. Print copies will keep you from having to carry fragile china during your research.
Visit your public library to examine dictionaries and manuals of china makers marks. "Kovel's New Dictionary of Marks, 1850 to the Present," written by Ralph and Terry Kovel, and Mary Frank Gaston's "Collectors Encyclopedia of Limoges Porcelain" are samples of directories available in libraries. Library print resources can provide confirmation of the marks on your pieces and may also contain photographs of your pattern.
Find further information through online research sites. These can range from antique and collectible club sites to commercial sales sites. ReplacementsLtd.com publishes both online and print guides to makers' marks and patterns. Onsite information often depends on existing china pieces for sale, and statements of value are based on potential sale. Some sites may also charge membership fees. Pursue these sites only if you are fairly sure they will add to your store of information.
Add online museum collections and museum contacts to your pattern research strategies. Curatorial information is ordinarily provided without charge, although print collection catalogs may require purchase. Museums are likely to have research resources hard to locate otherwise; inquire about services to museum members as well as nonmembers.
Local antique dealers may have contacts with china experts. Ask locally and make extra copies of your maker's mark and pattern photos to share with possible experts.
- Be prepared to spend some time on your search, especially if it involves correspondence. Follow up on your inquiries. Experts can be busy people.