Category Archives: Buying Pottery

Looking for something particular? Try Perfect Pieces Pottery Sourcing Service

Are you looking for something particular? That final item to complete a set? Or maybe you just want to expand your ever growing collection! Whatever the reason why not let us know.

Perfect Pieces now offers a free sourcing service. If you let us know what you are after or what items you collect we will do our best to find items that are of interest to you – with no obligation on you to buy the item.

Once we obtain new items we can either email, send a text to your mobile or telephone you. Then next time you’re online you’ll know to have a look at our site or check your email to see if the items are of interest to you.

Looking For A Gift? Visit our View ALL Stock Page

We usually have more than 100 pieces of antiques and collectable British pottery for sale on our website – 104 at the time of writing.

This means that if you are looking for a gift or aren’t sure what you are looking for, then it can be a little hard to know where to start looking.

To help solve this problem, we created the View All Stock page. This page displays little images (thumbnail images) of every piece of stock we currently have, allowing you to browse our whole collection on one page!

You can reach this page using the link in the top header, View ALL Stock, or the one in the left-hand sidebar, View ALL Stock Thumbnails.

When you find something you like the look of and would like to see more, simply click on the image. You will then see all of the information about that piece, including several large photos, a full description, details of its condition and its price. If you want to go further still, there’s a convenient Click to Buy button on each page too, allowing you to add the item to your shopping basket and purchase it straight away.

To view all of our stock please click on the link below:

View ALL Stock

We hope you find this page useful, if you have any comments please do get in touch.

Donington Antiques & Collectors Fair 30th/31st August – Cancelled

I have just received an email to let me know that the Antiques & Collectors fair at Donington Park this weekend, the 30th and 31st August, has been cancelled.

Years ago the Donington Fair used to be a popular event with stalls filling the great hall. However, in recent years this has declined and quite often its been quite empty of both stallholders and buyers. It is a popular time for people (including stallholders!) to be on holiday so that probably doesn’t help either.

4In1 say all their other fairs are scheduled to go ahead as normal for the rest of the year. If you want to check out the dates, contact them directly.

New to eBay? Start Here

Have you ever wondered what eBay is? Perhaps you’ve heard people talk about it, I know plenty of people do!

eBay is a giant marketplace with all sorts on offer from cars to caravans, pots to crafts there really is something for everyone.

You can browse the site without registering to see if there is anything that takes your fancy but you have to register to bid or buy an item. Registration is quick and simple and most importantly is free!

Do be careful when bidding on an item. Remember to:

  • Always read the description carefully;
  • Check postage and packaging costs;
  • Read the sellers buyers instructions;
  • Browse over the seller’s feedback it’s always good to have an idea of who you’re buying from;
  • And if in any doubt don’t be afraid to Email the seller and ask any questions before bidding. It’s always better to have a clear idea of everything BEFORE you bid so there’s no misunderstandings.

After all of that , if you’re tempted then why not register and give it a go!

Wash out at Wetherby Antiques Fair

I went down to the Wetherby Racecourse Antique & Collectors Fair run by Jaguar Fairs yesterday, Saturday 16th August, and I must say I was a little disappointed.

I arrived at about half past seven (trade is from 8am) but everyone was allowed in, entrance fees being £4 until 9am then £3 for the rest of the weekend. To say I was there from the start there were very few people walking round and the quality of the stock seems to have gone downhill with very few pieces catching my eye.

The racecourse has had some new exhibition buildings built and the fair is now housed inside these instead of the marquees it used to be in. The stalls are mainly scattered throughout two buldings with a couple of small side areas, slightly disjointed but easily located with the help of the bright yellow signs put up by the organisers. There are still some outside stalls dotted around the buildings and in the field near the entrance. The toilet facilities however are far better than they used to be!

I was hoping the new buildings would have added a new lease of life to the fair but it doesn’t seem to have worked out that way. As I left it was starting to spot with rain and today’s weather forecast is even worse so how much better the fair got I can only guess!

How to identify pottery marks…

I get many emails regarding the best books available to identify British pottery marks, and the kinds of guides that are good for taking with you when out hunting for items, so I thought I would run through some of the pottery mark books that are out there.

One of the main books available is the Encyclopaedia of British Pottery and Porcelain Marks by Geoffrey Godden. This is a hard back, very thick and very heavy book – however it is comprehensive and if you have lots of pottery marks you’re wanting to identify then it’s definitely worth having at home.

If you’re looking for a guide you can carry around, for instance if you want to take it with you when you visit antique fairs, antique centres or car boots then you can’t go wrong with either Geoffrey Godden’s New Handbook of British Pottery and Porcelain Marks or the Miller’s Pottery and Porcelain Marks guide. These are both small enough not to weigh you down but should provide you with all the basic information you might need to check out any finds!

Miller's Pottery and Porcelain Marks

And finally, if you’re a collector of Studio Pottery then the British Studio Potters’ Mark book by by Eric Yates-Owen and Robert Fournier is for you. This is a hardback book with many pages (672 in total!) so once again is very heavy but is very comprehensive and always worth a space on any book shelf.


British Studio Potters' Marks

Good luck with any identifying you’re trying to do and don’t forget if you get stuck with a particular pottery mark then why not post a message here to see if any of our other readers can help you!

How to Check Ceramics for Damage, Restoration & Wear (Part 2)

This article follows on from Part 1, which explains how you should check the age, authenticity and identity of your piece. In Part 2, we look at how you can find any damage, wear or restoration on antique ceramics.

Having some form of magnifying glass or eye glass is always handy when examining a piece. Here are two examples of the different types available that will easily fit in your pocket (click the image for further details):

Eyeglass - Good for examining pieces Folding magnifier
Draper jewellers eye glass & a chrome folding magnifing glass.

1. Crash, Bang, Wallop…

While it’s important to check the age and authenticity of a piece, your biggest concern should probably be its condition:

1. Ping the piece with your fingernail. Different materials and shapes make different noises – from bell-like to fairly dull. However, a restored piece will give an utterly-lifeless clonk when pinged.

This test is always a good starting point.

2. Run your fingertip around any edges on the piece – you will often find small chips in this way that you’d miss by just looking at the edges.

Small area of paint touch-up - note the slightly different colouring

3. Examine the piece carefully and look for changes in colour, texture or the line of a curve – all of which are tell-tale signs of repair or restoration (eye glasses are good for this – click here).

For example, you may sometimes find that a curved edge has a flat spot on it – this is where a small chip or fault has been ground down and painted over, to conceal it and prevent it worsening.

4. Check any gilding carefully – original gilding may be tarnished with age but should basically be shiny, perfectly smooth and have straight edges.

Gilding that has been applied by hand to restore the original will normally have a duller sheen, will often show brush marks and not have perfectly straight edges, or be as fine.

Again, once you have seen a few you will instinctively recognise restored gilding.Fine hairline to the base of this vase (at the top of the picture!)

5. Cracks, hairlines, etc. They may be the most obvious of faults, but finding them can be hard. Don’t be afraid to try and find some decent light for this – sunlight is best, but failing that a good artificial light.

If it’s china/porcelain (e.g. a tea service), try holding the piece up to the light. If it’s pottery, slowly examine the whole piece and look for any lines across the glaze. It can be hard to tell the difference between general crazing and a crack – as a guide, most people will consider it a crack if it goes the whole way through or if you can get your fingernail in it – it’s a bit of a grey area…

A crack won’t necessarily stop a piece pinging – so don’t rely on a ping test to decide whether a piece is free of cracks.

4. All Worn Down…

Eyeglass - Good for examining piecesWhile a little natural age adds to a piece’s charm and authenticity, excessive wear can ruin a piece, especially if it affects the pattern badly.

Wear can take a number of forms – depending on the type of piece and the decorating style that’s been used on it. Here are a few examples:

Gilding worn on the rim of this bowl

• Gilding wear – can be partial, which is quite obvious, or gilding can be completely missing, which is sometimes hard to see. Look for a slight “shadow” where the gilding used to be and the background colour is slightly darker than elsewhere.

• Enamel wear – piece decorated with coloured enamels overglaze can sometimes have whole pieces of enamel missing. These can just flake of cleanly, leaving no trace behind. Look for any gaps or uncoloured sections of the pattern.

Small piece of enamel flaked off the Temple post

• Glaze wear – rubbing, scratching and sometimes fading can all occur. It’s down to you to decide whether the level of wear is acceptable or not. If the piece is rare enough and the price is right, then why not go for it?

On the other hand, common pieces in poor condition make poor purchases, as a general rule.

I hope this guide has been useful – there is no substitute for experience when buying antique and collectable ceramics, but knowing what to look for and having the confidence to do so is half the battle.

You can see the first part of this guide – how to check for identity, authenticity and completeness – here.

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
exist.

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

Fakes and Reproductions – Who Takes The Rap?

“There’s an unspoken rule in trading antiques that it is the buyer’s responsibility to determine the authenticity of the pieces.”

This interesting quote came not from the Delboy Trotter manual of market trading, but from an article I happened across on the ChinaDaily.com website, reporting the successful prosecution of an antique coin dealer for selling 110 counterfeit coins, which he claimed had been unearthed at a construction site.

His three year jail sentence has generated something of an uproar amongst his fellow antique dealers, who it seems are not usually held to the same ethical standards as other industries – it seems that the scale and bare-faced cheek of the offence were this dealer’s downfall.

Closer To Home

While reputable dealers in the UK take pride in being able to vouch for the quality and authenticity of their stock, fakes are not unknown, as too are honest mistakes and ambiguous labelling by dealers and auction houses.

Take the seemingly innocuous phrase “Marked as….” for example. Carelessly read, it may be interpreted as “This object is…” but the reality is that it may mean completely the opposite – “This object is pretending to be….

An example that comes to mind is Troika Pottery. At more than one auction house in Yorkshire and the Midlands I have seen objects described as “Marked as Troika” – when they are quite obviously not. In one case, several genuine pieces of Troika sat alongside two very ordinary studio pottery vases that had simply had a Troika-style mark applied to their base. Yet the catalogue suggested that all pieces were Troika.

Look at it this way – if I stuck a Mercedes badge on my Ford, could I sell it as a Mercedes?

What Should You Do?

The reality is that whatever the legal niceties of a situation, buyers should beware:

  • Research what you are buying
  • Ask questions – particularly of a dealer
  • Look out for inexplicable anomalies or cagey wording in items’ descriptions
  • If you aren’t convinced, walk away, or just buy it anyway – but only as an aesthetically-pleasing object, nothing more.

I used Troika as an example as it is currently popular, yet new enough for it not to be all that widely understood. A couple of developments over the last year also seem to me to have increased the likelihood of fakes appearing:

  1. Authentic unpainted pieces have been being sold, cheaply and in quite high volumes, through auction houses and on eBay. These are genuine, but for some reason were never decorated. I imagine it would be relatively simple for someone with the right skills to decorate these and pass them off as originals.
  2. A selection of the original moulds, sold to a private collector when the pottery closed in 1983, have been made available for sale. While there is every possibility these will go to a good home, they may also not do, and one imagines could be used to produce new pieces, to be sold as apparent bargains at car boots, etc..

To learn more about Troika pottery, feel free to browse our wide selection of genuine Troika Pottery and Troika Marks.

When Is Charlotte Rhead Not Charlotte Rhead?

More subtle variations of this problem also exist – one notable example is that of Charlotte Rhead and Crown Ducal. It appears that various moulds and various trademarks were both separately, and legitimately, sold to the same person – who then commenced manufacturing items from the moulds, and adding the trademarks he had purchased to them. This does of course create a thoroughly misleading impression of the provenance of these modern pieces.

These links have more information, and are worth a visit:

  • Crown Ducal by Charlotte Rhead – Reproductions
  • Beware the Moulds – an article about what has happened
  • SylvaC fakes – Some information on SylvaC fakes and reproductions

Remember – always feel free to buy a dubious item for the pleasure it gives you, but make sure you know what you are looking at, and pay accordingly.