How to Check Ceramics for Damage, Restoration & Wear (Part 1)

Buying antique pottery and ceramics can be a risky process. It’s all too easy to get home and find that you’ve missed a hairline crack, a restored handle or one of the hundreds of other faults that might

While there is nothing wrong with choosing to buy ceramics in less than perfect condition, I am sure that you, like I do, prefer to know about it beforehand and make sure the price paid reflects the condition.

Poor saleroom and fair lighting, inaccurate descriptions and even unscrupulous dealers can all combine to make buying safely harder than it should be.

To help you avoid these pitfalls, we’ve put together a guide to checking ceramics – from identity and authenticity through to checking for damage, restoration and wear.

We’ve divided this guide into two parts:

Part 1 – Checking the authenticity and identity of a piece

Part 2 – Inspecting a piece for faults, damage, wear and restoration

1. What is it?

Sounds obvious, but is the piece you are looking at what it’s being sold as?

Check that the shape, pattern and pottery markings are all consistent with each other and with the piece itself. Mis-described and incorrectly marked (when manufactured) pieces aren’t unknown, although
they are uncommon.

Don’t be afraid to dig out a pattern guide or reference book to check a pattern or shape number – no one remembers them all!

Once you are happy with the authenticity of the piece, check it is complete.

Should it have a lid, frog (for flowers), detachable handle (e.g. biscuit barrels) or perhaps an accompanying spoon, knife or box?

It’s a case of caveat emptor, I’m afraid – you need to think about what you’re seeing and ask any questions before you buy. Any reputable dealer should be happy (and able) to explain why something is the way
it is.

2. Have The Years Left Their Mark?

It should always be apparent if a piece has some “age” or not. Even if it is in immaculate condition and has been stored away from bright light, dust and dirt, it should still feel old.

This is a hard one to describe – but if unsure look for small details:

  • Do the pottery markings look old?
  • Is the base a little worn/dirty where it has stood on different surfaces?
  • Is there any crazing?
  • Is there any dirt, discolouration or wear? Look in nooks and crannies or where lids, etc. fit on the main body

If you’ve been through each of the checks I’ve descrbed, you should now have a fairly good idea of the identity and authenticity of your piece – and you will probably already have noticed any obvious damage
or restoration to it.

To learn more about how to spot and understand damage, wear and restoration, check out Part 2 of this post by clicking on the link below:

Part 2 – Inspecting a piece for faults, damage, wear and restoration

137 thoughts on “How to Check Ceramics for Damage, Restoration & Wear (Part 1)

  1. R RUDDY

    HAVE LEARNED SO MUCH FROM YOU. I HAVE SEEN DENBY STONEWARE with a SCROLL MARK WITH DENBY STONE WARE IN CENTER OF SCROLL. I checked MARK AND IT IS CIRCA 1950 TO 1970 CIRCA 1950. Under the scroll there is an N on left and 5 on right. What does N and 5 mean ? Thank you

  2. J Boycott

    I have inherited several plates & platters from the makers K & Co.B on the kneeling man stamp is also the word “Kendal” which i presume to be the design name? Impressed in the plates are the words ivory K&Co and then 2 seperate digits all different from eachother. I have searched for information on the age and value but to no avail. Any ideas? Thank you

  3. Barry Nichol

    Hi, i have several pieces of burmantofts pottery,i am trying to age and value,but have had no luck so far,the pieces are, a lime green dimpled vase about 11cm high with the stamp BF 642 on the bottom, also 2 vases about 14cm high with the stamp BF 633on the bottom,these are blueish in colour, Any ideas? Thank You

  4. peter beard

    Hi, i have a maling jug on the bottem it as Maling then photo of Castle and beneath Castle Englandand a letter B, all other stamps i seen have England Newcastle upon tyne
    Any ideas Thanks

  5. Graham Wilson

    I have a Jug, marked “CROWN DEVON FIELDINGS” Made in England. It is approx.150mm in diameter and 220mm high. Has a Kangaroo for the handle, the words of ädvance Australia Fair”and pictures depicting Captain Cook taking possession of Botany Bay. The second scene is that of Aborigines throwing spears at Capt. Cook. Also has a music box in the base which plays Ädvance Australia Fair”when the Jug is picked up. Can anyone tell the age of this Jug for me, and possible value. It is in very good condition. Thank you

  6. Pamela Murray

    I have a small green jug and saucer leaf pattern. on the base is 4683 Sylvac England very good condition it also has a Sylvac label on it. Could you give me a value please. Thanks Pamela

  7. Heather Swallow

    I have a very large oval platter and I am trying to identify the pattern. Can anyone help? It has blue & white scrolls, simular to the Duchess design, and a zig-zag pattern with red and blue dots in between. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

  8. Sarah

    Could someone tell me how much a James Kent Old Foley Chinese Rose teapot with a small chip would be worth?
    Thank you.

  9. Sandy Morgan

    I have a sugar & creamer with a race scene on them and gold upper & lower rims. It says Bourne Denby Derby in a circle with Made in England surounding the circle on the bottom of the sugar container. Can I find out what these are worth? I can’t find them anywhere.

  10. nance

    i have part of a tea set marked tg green &co ltd no 0618 could anyone tell me how old this is thanks nance

  11. Connie

    I have a Mettlach stein with a lid and small chip on the rim. It also has 1799 – 2608 IV – VB and a castle marked on the bottom. Can anyone tell me the current value or where I can obtain it’s current value?

  12. Keith Winnett


    I’ve just been sorting through my Late Mother’s possessions and have come across a Glossy Black and Gold Wade Coffee Set (Black on the Outside and Gold inside), but I can’t find anything like it on any of the web sites I’ve been told to look at.

    Most of the items are just marked “Wade”, though 2 of the Cups have the name Royal Victoria.

    Does you recognise the pattern and know what it’s called?


  13. Mr J Barron

    I have a number of pieces of Maling china. Pattern is marked as maltese reg no589510 i’m unable to find when it was made or if its of any value as a collecters items

  14. Maureen Greer

    I have a Carltonware dish – highly decorated – marks I 01 0/1311 3788. Would be interested in knowing anything about it and if it has any value. Also a blue and cream jug – marks Cauldon 31 I and a Staffordshire dog – only mark is a “V”. Any comments would be appreciated.

  15. Pam poole

    I have a large dish by wade it’s got an n marke and pattern is gothic can u tell me if it’s worth anything

  16. Joy Smith

    I have a Royal Doulton figerine I belive to be named “The Touler”, It has been in the family for many years, he is a
    stone colour with a blue check jacket, he is carrying a sack over his shoulder and is glazed. It has the Royal Doulton and 10 stamp impressed on the base. I would like to know the valuation for insurance.

  17. C. Brock

    I have a small cream jug, price kensington it has a serial number. Can you tell me if it´s worth anything.

  18. May Brace

    Can anyone tell me about Losot Ware, Claremont. I have quite a few of pieces (inherited) of Grandma’s dinner service and the backstamp is the blue colour, with a crown logo and the words Keelings Co Ltd, Burslem, England. Thankyou.

  19. B Harrison

    I have a cream plate that was my mothers it has lily of the valley around the edge.
    Underneath the mark is wedgwood embossed queens ware in green underneath that made in england plate is indented WEDGWOOD made in ENGLAND AND A NUMBER THAT LOOKS LIKE 7726.Is it an old one of the creamwear and is it worth anything.It has 2 chips on the rim.

  20. Guy

    I have a rather pretty hand painted, vividly colourful, ceramic bowl approx 9 inches in diameter and 6 inches deep. The mark on the bottom is that of a swan sat above a swag in which it is written ‘Trade Mark’ and under that ‘LORNE’, further and underneath this are the initials B & H and then a number in red looks like 2 or 3 followed by an upside down v or badly drawn 0 with 7 and 3 following it.
    Can you give any further information regarding the date, maker and value of this piece please. Many thanks, Guy

  21. dave blackburn

    I have found a small rabbit among the pendelfin,s we collected for our granddaughter. It is a little smaller and is marked Dinkle ware England.Floss. I cannot find any information on this company.Can you help me please.Thanks Dave.

  22. fred cadden

    1934 liberty of freedom tea pot for sale mint condition are you interested ,mr freedy cadden

  23. Colleen Flint

    Hello, I have what I think is a biscuit barrel with flowers of some kind on. It also has legs. It is marked with a crown and underneath that are the letters w & r, a bird below and stoke on trent underneath. It also has Carlton Ware stamped on it. This hgas a number, which I think is either a 1 or 2 then 84 and again I think a 1 with a letter R at the side. I think it is dated late 1896 – 1927. How can I find a value to this please. This also as a small crack in it.

    Colleen Flint

  24. Beverly

    Hi there I have a mug from The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 2nd June 2nd 1953 . I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find a picture of another like it.It was made by Radfords in England and is numbered. I was wondering if anyone else has seen one like it. I’ve seen a cup with the exact printing on it but I have a mug.. any input would be great

  25. Sue warburton

    I have a pretty floral jug, on the base is a crown with Made in England underneath it, does any one know who the maker maybe, thanks.

  26. Jayne Russell

    Can someone out there help. I have a green pot with handle that reminds me of a bed pan by S.F.&co England. It had the crown stamp on the bottom and has the number +511 111 written on the bottom. One, what does this mean? I have searched the internet and believe it’s pre 1912 but what does the number mean and is there a value to such a pot? Any help gratefully received.

  27. Caroline

    I have inherited a Crown Derby Fieldings dish from my mother and have no idea of the value ( if there is one!)Would be grateful for any suggestions/ advice. It is green and cream with flowers and two handles and sits on a base. It is numbered 3304.Have looked on the internet but cannot find anything similar. Any ideas most welcome!

  28. Melissa Ely

    My daughters are having a tea party and I stopped at the local Goodwill and found a beautiful teapot made by Price Kensington – Made in England. It has what I assume is a stamped serial number: 4219. It’s a floral rose center with gold colored roping around it (which goes in a circle around the center floral area, but comes out like the sun shape on the outer area, if that makes sense) It has shiny gold around the edges with some leaf like marks on the spout. It’s truly beautiful and could not find any information about this specific pot online, and would like to know if it’s of any value before I let twin 4 year olds use it as their centerpiece at their birthday party. I can send a picture if desired. Any help would be most appreciated. Thanks!

  29. stacey

    I i have a plate that looks fairly old it has a stamp on the back with the words welbeck above a crown then below the crown theres a ribbon with a word in it but some of the letters have fading so i cant quiet make it out it begins with of A_ _T _ _ _ A then under that it says S.M.& Sons ENGLAND Rd No 371791. Im just wondering if you have any information for on that 4 me has i cant to get any exact info. The plate its self has a blue & red floral pattern round the rim & theres also two small numbers stamped on the back & they are a 2/7. Hope 2 hear back from you. Thanks

  30. margaret barnett

    i have three black jugs going up in size decorated with flowers plus a matching vase. i says made in england and various marks on the bottom. I think its staffordshire but has anyone any ideas. I would be very grateful for any suggestions to follow up.
    Kind regards
    Margaret Barnett

  31. Karen

    Hi, I’ve inherited a Biscuit Barrel, James Kent Ltd, Fenton. # 165 It appears to be about 1920’s. Do you think it might be worth anything.

  32. R. Gray

    I have several pieces of K & C late Mayers 1790 Flora : Meat platters. tureens and plates etc. is there any value to these items?

  33. Gillian McArthur

    Dinner Service received by my grandmother as a wedding present. Barkers and Kent 6 of everything + tureen with saucer and gravy boat with saucer. All excellent condition. Doe it have any value?

  34. carol messenger

    Hi I have a pair of vases, 12″ high, pink with gilt “handles”, and a different picture back and front. Both bottoms are stamped with Made in England and I think they say 159 L/3. One of them also has a crown mark stamped on it. Please could you give me any background as to what these might be and whether they are of any value?

    Many thanks

  35. Julie

    Hi I wonder if you can help my aunt has had to go into residential care and I am trying to sell her ornaments for her.
    She has a Weatherby Hanley England ornamental bowl 8inches in diameter it features two parrot type birds and has
    3 stump type legs on the bottom marked number 5176. Is this collectable if so how much should I sell it for?

    Thank you for your help.

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