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Were you lucky enough to inherit you grandmother’s or great grandmother’s fine china?  If no, have you been collecting your own? Why do we love these? People love the designs, colors, and patterns of fine china. Fine china also comes with a back story, even if you are not privy to it. Old plates have a secret history, a silent backstory of conversations over tea; plates hauled across oceans, or bought when a family moved up the socioeconomic ladder and were suddenly able to afford pretty instead of merely useful materials. No matter how or why you got started, collecting fine china can be more than just a hobby. It is a fun way to outfit or decorate your kitchen or dining room.

Starting a New Fine China Collection

Collecting can be such a joyful undertaking. You want to be a successful collector. The collecting trends change all the time. Now, parents downsizing and gifting children with their prized fine china are told not to bother. Young people don’t want it. For collectors, that means today is a good time to find great deals on fine china.

You may see a pattern that catches your eye when visiting antique malls, at an auction, or when browsing online. Before you consider collecting you need to consider a few things. First, what will be your primary use of the china? Do you plan on using it regularly, using it on rare occasion, or not using it all but just displaying it? How often you plan to use the pieces will determine how durable a piece needs to be and how much you may be willing to spend. Some people collect multiple sets for different uses at different times of the year or different occasions as well as sets just to display.

Adding to a Collection

If you already have some pieces, and you are trying to complete a set, it can be a challenge. That also means it can be fun! First, you’re going to need to determine who the maker of the china was. Usually this is printed on the back side or bottom of each piece. Next, you need to find the name of the pattern. Often it is printed along with the name of the maker, but not always. If you have these details, you can search online to find out the date. You can also search antique dealers or auction companies to find matching pieces to purchase. If you can’t find the name of the maker or the name of the pattern of your china, you can look for a china matching service. They will be able to quickly help you determine the information.

Older Pieces

The older your pieces are, the more difficult it may be to make these identifications. Matching pieces to these older sets may also be more challenging and as a result, more costly. Older pieces will also be more likely to have chips and damages from the years. You will have to decide how much damage you are willing to accept based on how difficult the piece was to find. Condition should also impact the price.


Age and condition are not the only factors in determining the cost and value of fine china. Before choosing a specific pattern to collect, you will want to do your homework. Different brands and different styles will have different prices. Be sure your design will fit into your budget before you begin to try collecting it. The supply of collectibles also affects pricing and that constantly evolves.

Online Sales

When making a purchase online it will be essential that you examine photos carefully to be sure it matches what you are looking for and to determine condition. You should ask plenty of questions. Look for a seller that is willing to accept a return if the piece arrives and is not what you expected. Also, be sure your seller has appropriate packing and shipping in order to keep the item safe.

Mixing it Up

All the plates matching one another on the table makes a lovely sight, but happily displaying a mix of patterns in your china can also be fun and may provide a more relaxed display.  The eclectic look of your favorite pieces in a variety can be every bit as beautiful as a matched set. It can also allow you to splurge on the upper tip of your budget for that one special piece, and complete your set with more affordable ones. Also, using mixed sets will allow you to have enough pieces to set a larger table than a matching set with hard to find pieces may.

“Set the table.” That phrase has a certain exact expectation, doesn’t it?  Place the plate here, the napkin there, the silverware in just the right place. (Measured with a ruler in Victorian days!)  Despite our love of casual these days, antique and fine china is making a comeback. Entertaining is an art form that often makes us feel a need for a more formal elegance. We can enjoy using the beautiful porcelain dishes of the past without the strict rules they were once bound to. LAWSON & CO is an auction house and full-service real estate company. Come and see what fine china or other treasures you can find! Give us a call at 317-745-6404 or visit us at LAWSON & CO.

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