Get the expert tips when reselling so you can make more money. Ceramics are some of the most popular objects in the collectibles market today. Whether you are reselling fine British porcelains or American cookie jars, you need to know an object’s origin, background, date, and material. The form, glaze, color, and feel of a collectible ceramic piece are some of the attributes that attract potential buyers as well as the maker’s mark. People love to search for the maker’s mark when buying ceramics. So if you are the seller of a piece of porcelain, earthenware, stoneware, shino pottery or other fired clay piece, make sure you are familiar with the mark on the underside of your piece. Discovering the ceramic mark can be a very rewarding part of the research process.
Are you using these expert tips when reselling? Learning to identify a ceramic is much more than just looking under the bottom of a teapot and recognizing a mark. If you want to know, really know about ceramics, you have to have a feel for a piece. That’s right, certain ceramics feel different from others. Jasperware has a reserved roughness about its surface and majolica tin glazed ceramic is mildly bumpy but very colorful, and creamware has a recognizable consistency of its body. Japanese shino glazes are slippery and high sheen while blue/white delft is durable like ironstone ceramic. If you can start to develop a “feel” for a certain type of ceramic body, that will help you to sell smart. You’ll be able to discern between high and low quality examples of your favorite types of fired ceramics.
Learn the code to recognizing a type of ceramic object. For instance, start to recall or remember which firms are best known for making a particular type of ceramic object. Like Goebel, the people who make those Hummel figurines in hand painted and hand glazed earthenware ceramic. This type of object should feel different to you when you pick it up when compared to Lladro figurines or Wedgwood plates featuring classical figures as decorations.
Smooth and shiny black on black pottery wares from the Native American pueblo potters like Maria Martinez of the San Ildefonso pueblo in New Mexico should have a recognizable and very different look, sheen, and feel from other types of ceramics such as Southern face jugs or stoneware vessels.
Weight should give you a good idea about your ceramic piece and so should the look of the glaze or decoration on the piece.
American pieces of the early to mid 1900s like Glidden, Roseville, Van Briggle, McCoy, and others have distinct characteristics and marks that help you identify them. Glidden has a hand written mark and an unglazed underside. Roseville has many traits for its mark such as Roseville, USA, the size in inches of the piece, and a mold number. McCoy has a highly recognizable “McCoy” mark under the glaze on its pieces from cookie jars to planters. And, Colorado Spring’s own Van Briggle pottery firm has marks on the bottom that relate to its original founder as well as attributes specific only to a specific piece.
There is a lot to learn when it comes to identifying ceramics but most importantly, knowing the studio ceramic marks is a great place to start. There are many websites that feature identification marks but the best thing to learn about ceramics is how a true piece of Minton or Royal Worcester or Blue Ridge pottery should look and feel. If you can commit this information to memory, that will serve you well as you market, describe, and sell your antique and vintage ceramics.
Know the Terms Insiders Use
Biscuit, bisque or twice-baked ceramics has nothing to do with flour or baking. Bisque is a term that is commonly used to describe unglazed pieces that have only gone through a single firing in a kiln. This first firing or the first of two bakes would be used to unite raw materials. The second baking or firing was to complete the shape of the object. The second firing would make a porous piece of bisque less porous with the aid of glaze. Unglazed white bisque, while popular, is more difficult to clean than glazed ceramics and that is important to note when you are trying to sell such a piece. Buyers want clean objects and an unglazed piece will certainly show its age after years of dirt has landed on its porous surface. One of many expert tips when reselling is to consider marketing glazed ceramics rather than unglazed so your buyers can purchase clean glazed ceramic pieces that look great right from your online shop.
China relates to both an exotic location and a well known material. Porcelain that came from China was called china and it was highly sought after in the 1600s. Once the Europeans started to make their own porcelains, the term china defined many types of ceramic items particularly items relating to table ware and afternoon tea accessories.
Flatback is a term used for cheap earthenware ceramic objects that are flat on the back showing the molded form of the figure only on one side, the front. Staffordshire objects are notoriously known to be flat backed and slim enough to fit on a bookshelf or within a choc-full curio cabinet.
Hard paste porcelain has a firing temperature of 2192 to 2642 degrees F and this high temperature firing has important results: a very hard, non-porous, and bright white colored body.
Lusterware, an Egyptian ceramic invention, refers to the decorative copper or silver oxide pigments that are painted onto a glazed piece of pottery. A firing where air supply is restricted will result in a shiny luster look featuring a metallic look on the ceramic’s body.
Majolica, while not to be confused with China or china, gets its name from the Spanish island of Majorca. The island was important to the trade of the tin glazed earthenware ceramics and the Italians took it as their own copying the Spanish examples. Even Italian opera star, Pavarotti collected Italian majolica pieces for their colorful details.
Glazes are all important and they make a big difference to the final product if they are applied either over and under the final surface glaze. No, over/under isn’t reserved to sports betting, in ceramics, the terms over and under relate to glazes. An over glaze is the final glaze on a piece of fired ceramics. And the all important underglaze is the ceramic decoration that sits beneath the final glaze. Cobalt blue is the strongest underglaze color which was introduced in China in the 1300s.
Queen’s wares are cream colored ceramics of earthware material and this term relates closely to the jasperware made famous by Josiah Wedgwood and to the figurines made of white ground from Staffordshire England.
Slip is an important decorative element when it comes to ceramics. Slip decorated pieces comes from clay that is allowed to stay in water until a cream-like consistency forms and then it is “painted” onto the piece to make a type of ceramic decoration known as moriage or wet slip ware designs.
Transferware allows ceramicists to decorate a piece of pottery with a printed image from a piece of tissue paper and transfer that image to the surface object.
Fakes and Forgeries
One of the most important expert tips when reselling ceramics is to know if you have a forgery or not. Some of the most popular marks are easy to recognize, like the Meissen blue crosses swords or the Royal Doulton lion and crown and the list goes on. While it is important to know the origin of a mark or mold number, it is also wise to learn which ceramic maker’s marks are regularly copied or forged.
So many of you tell me that you found the mark and that must mean that you have an original piece or Wedgwood or Belleek but that’s not the final chapter of the story. Many prominent ceramics are marked with pseudo or false maker’s marks. For instance, the famous Meissen mark known the world over is often faked. The Meissen mark—you know it, those prominent blue crossed swords– is often pirated by other firms. Meissen ceramics have such high status in the industry that many other firms wanted to copy the Meissen wares and use its marks to capitalize on their brand. Be sure you know that your mark is authentic before you list it for online sale or try to market it in a yard or estate sale or a brick and mortar shop.
Remember these expert tips when reselling the next time you are getting ready to market your ceramics to a buying audience. I can also help you with identifying and valuing your ceramics so you know what to include with your online listings making sure your piece is real and not a fake. You can show items by scheduling a video call or you can send me photos. Watch videos on my YouTube channel as I show you how to identify and sell your thrifting finds.Read More »