If you are one of those lucky people who had a chance to spend a lot of time with your grandma while growing up, I bet you encountered her vintage dishes collection many times. However, little did you know that some of those dishes right there are pretty valuable. Truth to be told, most people even nowadays consider these collectibles as worthless, but oh how are they wrong.
If you were lucky, you inherited that collection and a passion for collecting rare and valuable dishes. If not after reading this article you will want to learn all about the rare dishes worth money, and we say worth money, we really mean it!
What Type Of Vintage Dishes Are The Most Valuable?
When we say dishware the first thing that most people think about is fine china, or porcelain. However, there are different types of antique dishware and the material that was used for crafting depended on the period and place.
That means that the value of your dish will not only be determined by the material but will also be conditioned by historic facts such as from which era it originates, and who is the maker. There are a few different types of old dishes:
- Porcelain or as we also call it china;
- Glassware and crystalware;
One of the unjustifiably underrated members of the antique dishes crew is for sure silverware. Many people are shocked that this simple-looking dinnerware can be so expensive. However, silverware dishes are expensive due to their ability to withstand the tool of time with ease. There are some pieces that with proper care maintained their initial state of shine and newness.
Throughout history kings and lord all over the world loved custom-made silverware. One of the most noticeable silverware pieces is the German Soup Tureen made for King Louis XV. This piece was sold for $10 million at Sotheby’s.
A lot of people get confused when talking about porcelain and fine chine. Most think this is two different things, but they are wrong. So let me explain. The term “porcelain” describe the overall look of the item and in Latin, it means “seashell”, and as you know porcelain is white, smooth, and lustrous just like the inside of the seashells. On the other hand, the term “China” is tied up with the country of origin which is China.
Porcelain is made from kaolin clay and bones. The porcelain made from animal bones that are burned into the powder is called bone china, and it is very valuable and very durable. Regular porcelain is burned on a heat of about 2200-2600 degrees and comes out in a bright white shade while bone china is more milky white.
Porcelain dishes were always highly collectible items due to their beauty, sharp patterns, color palettes, and solid quality. In fact, it seems like they will never go out of style. The most valuable porcelain brands include:
- Qing Dynasty Porcelain
- Jihong Porcelain
- Joseon Porcelain
- Bleu de Hue
- Portuguese Porcelain
Glassware and Crystalware
The award for the most fragile dish type goes to this category. Unfortunately, items made from glass and crystal are insanely beautiful and easily breakable. Also, they may fade due to aging if they aren’t maintained properly. However, these facts don’t make them less special or valuable.
If you take a good look at your granny’s cabinet with dishes I bet you will find at least one dish, cup, bowl, or glass made from depression glass. Depression glassware is highly demanded due to its vibrant design. They come in many different colors such as blue, pink, amber, purple, neon yellow, green, and clear glass.
A lot of people didn’t hear about creamware, I mean they have seen it but never knew that this isn’t a porcelain type of dish. Creamware is thinly potted, clear lead-glazed refined earthenware which was fired twice. One time before decoration and the second time after decoring and glazing.
These dishes sport a luxurious look, and they can come in a wide range of white color shades – from ivory, creamy white, off-white, to tan to straw-colored. What makes this type of dishware special is the variations of decorative techniques. You will notice techniques like molding, transfer printing, as well as underglaze and overglaze. Each technique labels a different era.
In a nutshell, stoneware is a particular type of ceramics that is very durable, non-porous, waterproof, heavy and has that sturdy rustic look. It is made from a special type of clay that can withstand high temperatures.
Stoneware dishes are fired a few times during the making process and they also go through the process of vitrification. This is what makes them almost indestructible. This is the reason why most bakeware and pots are made from this material.
Let’s Learn How To Identify Antique And Rare Dishes Worth Money
When trying to identify and estimate the value of an antique item you need to acquire some knowledge beforehand. There are always a few factors that come to mind such as material, place of origin, or historical background.
Think about what exactly is the leading “IT” thing about that particular dish that makes it collectible. To be honest, your granny didn’t keep it for special occasions without reason. But to be able to monetize any antique or vintage artifact you need to know what makes it so special and valuable.
When we talk about rare dishes worth money, in most cases the main factor is the quality of the raw material used to produce the dishware. However, here are some of the most important things you need to know before you start pricing your dish:
- Know the age – Well, this is logical. To be able to identify if an item is antique or vintage you need to know the date of origin. This can be pretty hard considering not all of them wear prints and marks with date. However, you can find the potential era of manufacturing by recognizing the pattern shapes. Throughout history, different colors and patterns were popular so this can help a lot. Keep in mind that an antique dish must show off some signs of aging such as cracks, chips, and patina, or else they are fake.
- Look for manufacturer’s marks – A lot of manufacturers stamped their dishes with characteristic marks during the making process. There are a few things you need to know about marks that can help you identify your dishes. Pre-1899 dishes had marks inscribed on their surfaces, while dishes after 1900 have these stamps and logos imprinted on the bodies. Also, early logos were always smaller compared to the modern versions. Most marks include individual names for quick and seamless identification which will help you find the exact information about when was your dish made. When checking for a maker’s mark, always flip your antique dish since sometimes loos can be hidden there. Very old, antique dishes, usually don’t have these marks, and if they do they are probably faded over time.
- Study the pattern shape – If you are into collecting dishes you already know that different patterns are related to specific manufacturers, regions, or periods. This is a great thing considering this is one of the easiest and safest ways to identify your antique collectible. You need to learn about patterns since they are important due to their origin, uniqueness, and peculiarity.
- Read the identification guides – How do you expect to find more about antique dishes if not reading the adequate literature? Make sure you read as many identification guides as you can find. These guides are full of valuable information from patterns to types and periods, as well as makers and their signature features.
- Get it appraised – Identifying your antique dish isn’t easy. If you struggle with it there is only one thing you can do – take it to a specialist for appraising. This step is necessary to help you understand the origin, historical background, design, and patterns. These specialists will provide you with the needed assistance and help you out with putting a price on your antique dish.
How to determine the value of rare dishes
Determining the value of antique dishes does not always be too hard. After you identify the age and place of origin you’ll easily estimate the value. You can do it on your own if you are adventurous, or you can use the help of an expert, it is up to you.
For all those people that are adventurous enough, this section will explain how you can do it properly. Follow these guidelines:
- Condition – As the usual first thing you need to check before putting a price on your item is the current condition. The value of your antique dishes will be determined by the condition. If your plates are damaged, broken, chipped, or cracked, you’ll need to understand that they won’t get their real value’s worth. Also, dishes usually come in a set or pair, so complete sets are valued higher than single pieces. Make sure every piece of your collection is in good condition.
- Research pattern and design – As already mentioned, patterns and design will help you determine the origin and age, but they will also help you determine the value. Some patterns may be very old yet not so valuable. Certain patterns have a rich historical background which makes them very valuable. Also, the design of your antique dish can increase the value of your item. Items like dinner plates, salad plates, coffee pots, and cake plates are very popular among collectors, so naturally, their prices are higher.
- Place of origin – The place of manufacturing is also a crucial factor when it comes to estimating the value. Porcelain and glassware from China, England, Portugal, Italy, Thailand, and America are very attractive to collectors. pieces from England or America are very desirable. You can easily determine their place of origin by checking their backs for stamps. For instance, vintage bone china in England has a mark in the shape of a crown stamped on the bottom. underneath it for easy recognition.
- Provenance – Historical background is always a big plus no matter which type of collectible item you have. If your dish was previously owned by someone reputable, this will for sure increase the price, collectability, and demand for it. If you pay attention you will notice that the most of antique dishes that have been auctioned around the world were previously owned by kings from significant periods or reputable historical persons.
- Rarity – Nothing speaks value like uniqueness and rarity. If your dish is hard to find the more valuable it will be. There are many dishes that have been made with little examples in series, and some of them are the only ones that survived. However, keep in mind that most dishes that are termed rare were used to celebrate some grand and special occasions such as anniversaries or coronations, so focus on that.
In the world of collecting the rule is that any item can become valuable overnight, and it can also lose its value overnight. Your items are valuable only when people become interested in them. When some antique or new-age item stays in a spot for a longer period of time its value significantly grows. Without invoking interest among people, no matter how old and beautiful your items will not have any significant value.
List Of Most Valuable Rare Dishes That Worth Fortune
Qing Dynasty Porcelain Chinese Vase
- Year: 1644
- Price: $84 million
If you think there is no luck, you are wrong. This amazing vase was discovered by the relatives who inherited a house. The Quing Porcelain vase from the 18th century was made with hard paste and high-grade bone ash china. This vase is pretty large, it is 40 cm tall, yellow and blue in color, and decorated with fish motifs.
Dinnerware from this period and era was in use by Chinese royalty and noble people considering it was expensive to produce. This particular antique dish is very robust and heavy due to the bone ash. The funny thing is that this vase was estimated to be worth around $19 million while on the auction it reached $84 million!
Ru Guanyo Brush Washer Bowl
- Year: 960-1127
- Price: $37.7 million
A simple bowl from the Old Northern Song Dynasty became a holy grail among porcelain items. In fact, there were five different molds built during the reign of this dynasty but this one is the most famous one. The ceramic used for making this bowl is one of the finest and sought after.
A bowl represents a classic example of Chinese ornate art. It features a turquoise glaze with a pattern that is resembling ice crackles. Also, it features classic proportions and three “sesame seed” depressions on kiln supports. Bowls like these were made to be used as brush washers to clean calligraphy or paint brushes in ancient China.
Blue And White Porcelain Bowl
- Year: 1426-1435
- Price: $29.2 million
Now this is one very expensive bowl. This almost six hundred years old bowl in blue and white color is decorated with a characteristic Chinese motif – fish. You can see four different fish swimming among the water plants while one of them is hatching.
What is also characteristic of the porcelain from this period is the blue color which is a product of Cobalt Oxide. This is a very expensive material, more expensive than gold or diamond, so hence the price. You will notice that this style influenced European manufacturers to start using the same patterns, schemes, and colors. Almost all fishpond pattern bowls were created during the Xuande period in China.
Blue And White Porcelain Meiping Vase
- Year: 1368-1644
- Price: $21.4 million
A Chinese vase from the early Ming period is the ultimate winner when it comes to collectible items from the Ming dynasty. This 500-year-old vase was estimated to be worth around $10 million, but it was sold for twice as much.
Like with the previous item, the characteristic of this vase is the blue coloring from Cobalt oxide. The blue color enhances the already refined fruit and flower decoration, which was characteristic of items that originate from the early Ming period.
- Year: 1731
- Price: $15 million
When we say that some items are valuable because of their historical background we mean cases like this. The Meissen collection was stolen by the Nazis during WWII and then restituted by the Dutch government. This small incident increased the value of this set to about $15 million.
However, this is not the only thing that makes Meissen porcelain valuable. Also, the specific design and pattern are what contribute to the value. This antique dishware represents German history and it is classified as a luxurious collectible.
Blood Red Porcelain Lotus Bowl
- Price: $11.11 million
Red is a very traditional and important color in Chinese history. It stands for joy, tranquility, and purity. So there is no surprise why so many of their chine dishes are made and decorated with this color. This particular red bowl from the Tang Dynasty holds so much significance in Chinese history.
What makes this item so valuable is the production which is very complex. The red lotus bowl was manufactured by a high-level of master and from high-quality raw materials. Unfortunately, the production of these bowls stopped during the Qing Dynasty, which makes these bowls rare and sought-after collectibles among collectors.
Jingdezhen Jihong Porcelain Ming Dynasty
- Year: 1271
- Price: $10 million
This red-copper beauty originates from the period of the Ming Dynasty. The vase is extremely rare, it is estimated that less than 100 pieces of Jihong Porcelain vases are left in museums, and there is no record of how many of them are in private ownership.
What makes Ming porcelain special is the fact that it was used for sacrifices during ritual ceremonies. This particular vase features a pear shape decorated with peony blossoms. Also, what adds value to this vase are sacred materials like Jade, Agate, and Pearls. These materials were used for crafting porcelain for nobles and royals.
This is the only piece known to be preserved in one piece with no damage at all.
Germain Soup Tureen
- Year: 1733
- Price: $10 million
This notable Thomas Germain soup tureen is an extraordinary collectible item. First, it has a great historical background. It was made for French King Louis XV and it outlived the French Revolution. Considering that most other silver pieces that belonged to Louis XV have been melted to finance the French Revolution, it isn’t surprising that this tureen was auctioned for big bucks.
Besides the great historical background, this item features a high-quality design and an abundance of details that enhance its elegant form. The Germain Soup Tureen is still the most expensive piece of silverware ever sold.
Rococo Silverware George II Coffee Pot by Paul De Lamerie
- Year: 1738
- Price: $7 million
If this isn’t the most expensive coffee pot you ever heard of, please show us the one that costs more. At first, it was estimated to be worth around $4.5 million, however, it was sold for a whopping $7 million.
This silverware Rococo masterpiece is designed by the great Britan silversmith Paul de Lamerie for a famous merchant. Also, this is the most valuable piece of English silver sold in history. The silver coffee pot was created in 1738. Often silverware pieces like this come in a set, but this one is a single piece. The coffee pot is decorated with body carvings of animals and plants.
Imperial Famille Rose Peach Dishes
- Year: 1723-1735
- Price: $5.8 million
These plates originate from the Yongzheng period. What is characteristic of the dishes from this period is that they carry a six-character reign mark within double squares like these dishes, or they have a mark in the shape of double circles.
These Impriela rose peach dishes come in four different sizes, and the ones we are presenting here are second in size. Dishes are carefully molded with depressed round sides that elevate from a shallow foot ring, paired with a raised shallow rim. Colors used for coating are in shades of pink, yellow, white, black, green, and blood-red.
The exterior of the plates is decorated with detailed three peaches blooming on flowered branches and two bats. An interesting fact is that the design extends over the rim all the way to the center of the plate. Here you will notice five more peaches and three bats. The estimated worth was around $7.6 million, but it was sold for $5.8 million in 2014.
Constable-Maxwell Cage Cup
- Year: 300 AD
- Price: $3,3 million
Glass dishes can be very valuable, especially those that are classified as ancient artifacts like this one. This glass cage cup originates from the Roman era, more precisely the 3rd century. In fact, this item is believed to be a part of a lamp and not a functional item on its own.
Considering how fragile glassware is, it is a true miracle that this piece survived intact for over 2000 years. What makes this unique item even more special is that both the bowl and cage were made from a single piece of glass. The name Constable-Maxwell originates from the collector who sold it.
Where Can I Buy Or Sell Rare And Valuable Dishes
Becoming a successful collector isn’t as easy as it may seem at first. To be able to build a proper collection, you need to first build up a tight net of reliable people around you, from mentors, and appraisers, to dealers.
You can’t just go and buy a new item for your collection without checking the background first. Unfortunately, today a lot of people, get scammed when buying collectibles, and the main reason is rush. The best advice we can give you is to always first check with your mentor or a specialist and just then place a bid. Here is the list of places where you can trade your antique dishes:
- Auction houses – Your first choice should always be auction houses and online auction platforms. Check the webpages like Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Invaluable, LiveAuctioneers, and British Bespoke Auction. These are the safest sources when it comes to trading antique dishes. However, get ready to be quick since auctioned goods are always in high demand here, and you can easily end up empty-handed if you don’t organize. But the experience is thrilling, though.
- Antique shops – Antique stores are usually full of furniture and dishes, so this is a great place to start looking for new additions. Also, there are some online antique stores worth checking out, such as Ruby Lane and Chairish. Here you can find a wide variety of collectible dishes like tea sets, porcelain bowls, vintage glassware, and antique serving pieces. A big plus is that most items here are ridiculously low priced, so enjoy it!
- Flea market and yard sales – Searching for golden goose among dishes start at unexpected places. Do you all remember how I told you that our grandmas were passionate about collecting dishes? Well, some people inherited very valuable collections and they are willing to sell them under price just to get rid of them. So don’t be lazy and start visiting flea markets and yard sales. Also, in some cases, flea markets are organized by antique dealers so you’ll get a chance to have one-on-one consultation with experts. If you are trying to build up a nice collection while saving some money these are the best places for you.
- Online platforms – Online platforms like eBay, Etsy, and 1stDibs, offer you a wide selection of antique dishes. A good thing about these platforms is that you can shop from the comfort of your home and get your purchase delivered to you, easy-peasy, right? However, there is a bad side as well. These places are full of scammers that will try to sell you fake things or sell you the real thing but for a much bigger price. It’s not like you shouldn’t shop here, but make sure you are extra careful.
What is the difference between antique and vintage dishes?
A lot of people think that vintage and antique are the same. The truth is that they are far from the same. Lets me put it simply, an item, whether it is a piece of art, jewelry, furniture, dish, coin, etc. that is over 100 years old is classified as an antique item. Items that are younger than 100 years are called vintage. Both have a special value for collectors and are undeniably popular among them today. However, each category has its own distinct appeal.
However, when it comes to dishes items that are older than 40 years but younger than 100 are vintage. Items that are older than 20 years but younger than 40 are called retro. Dishes older than 100 years are antique, however, those that are over 1,000 years old are usually called ancient.
Why do old dishes turn yellow with time?
This happens to items that are made from clay and bone ash. Yellowing is the natural process that occurs after some period of time, if your items are exposed to conditions that aren’t suitable for them. But don’t worry, there is a solution to how you can prevent this, or if it happens how to get rid of it.
There are several ways to clean your antique dishes, you can use some mild cleaning solutions for light stains and harsh chemicals to remove extreme cases. For light stains, you can use vinegar and baking soda. If your stains are stubborn use hydrogen peroxide.
Also, don’t get surprised if your silverware change color as well. With time all silver items become darker, with greenish or reddish stains. That’s called patina and you can try to get rid of it at home, however, the best way is to take it to someone who is an expert in this field.
Its Parting Time
Everyone would love to own an item that has any connections with nobility, royalty, or famous person, this will for sure elevate the price of your item. In the end, what you need to understand is that age and historical background will always attract collectors, but if your dish is not in representable condition it just won’t pass.
Also, when it comes to dishes, the main rule is – less is more. What this means is that scarcity is often more important than over-the-top decoration. If you take a look you will notice that a lot of dishes on this list feature a very simple design. So as you can see, flashy items don’t guarantee you big bucks.
And while we talk about the money, appraising your collection isn’t rocket science, but if you aren’t sure you can do it on your own, take it to an expert. Knowing the real worth of each of your pieces is very helpful, no matter if you plan to sell your collection or not.