How to Determine if Pottery is Vintage

How to Determine if Pottery is Vintage

When it comes to collecting pottery, there is a certain charm in acquiring vintage pieces. Vintage pottery often carries with it a sense of history and craftsmanship that is hard to find in modern mass-produced items. But how do you determine if the pottery you have your eye on is truly vintage? In this complete guide, we will explore the key factors to look for when determining the age and authenticity of pottery.

1. Markings and Signatures: One of the most important clues to determine if pottery is vintage is by examining the markings and signatures on the piece. Many vintage pottery manufacturers included their logo, signature, or specific marking that can help identify the time period the piece was made.

2. Style and Design: The style and design of the pottery can also provide valuable insight into its age. Different time periods and design movements have distinct characteristics that can be identified through the shape, patterns, and colors used in the pottery.

3. Quality of Craftsmanship: Vintage pottery is often prized for its high-quality craftsmanship. When examining a piece, pay attention to the level of detail, precision in the glazing, and overall quality of construction. Vintage pottery is more likely to be handmade and showcase superior craftsmanship compared to mass-produced contemporary items.

4. Condition and Wear: The condition of the pottery can also give clues about its age. Vintage pottery is likely to show signs of wear and use, such as minor chips, cracks, or faded glazes. However, it is important to note that excessive damage or restoration may significantly affect the value and authenticity of the piece.

5. Research and Documentation: Finally, thorough research and documentation can provide valuable information about the age and authenticity of the pottery. Utilize resources such as books, online databases, and reputable antique dealers to gather information about specific manufacturers, time periods, and identifying features.

Armed with these tips, you can now confidently determine if the pottery you come across is truly vintage. Remember to take your time, do your research, and consult with experts if needed. And most importantly, enjoy the thrill of discovering and collecting these beautiful pieces of history!

Gather Information on the Pottery

When determining if pottery is vintage, it’s important to gather as much information as possible. This can help you establish the age, manufacturer, and value of the piece. Here are some steps you can take to gather information:

  1. Examine the pottery: Start by carefully examining the piece of pottery. Look for any hallmarks, signatures, or marks that may indicate the manufacturer or artist. These can often be found on the bottom of the piece.
  2. Research the manufacturer: If you find a manufacturer’s mark, do some research to determine its history and the time period during which it operated. This can provide clues about the vintage of the pottery.
  3. Consult reference books: Reference books on vintage pottery can be a valuable resource. Look for books that focus on the specific type or style of pottery you are investigating. These books may contain information on manufacturers, artists, and time periods.
  4. Visit pottery collector forums and websites: Online communities of pottery collectors can be a wealth of information. Joining these forums and websites can allow you to ask questions and seek advice from experienced collectors. They may also have resources and guides to help you identify vintage pottery.
  5. Seek expert opinions: If you are unsure about the authenticity or value of a piece of pottery, consider seeking the opinion of an expert. Antique appraisers or pottery experts can often provide valuable insights and help you identify whether the pottery is vintage.

Gathering information on the pottery is a crucial step in determining its vintage. It can help you make informed decisions about buying, selling, or collecting pottery pieces.

Examine the Pottery for Markings or Labels

One of the first things you should do when trying to determine if pottery is vintage is to examine it for any markings or labels. These markings can often provide clues about the pottery’s age, origin, and maker.

Here are some steps you can follow to examine the pottery for markings or labels:

  1. Look for a maker’s mark: Many pottery pieces will have a maker’s mark, which is a stamp or signature that indicates the manufacturer or artist who created the piece. The mark may be located on the bottom of the pottery or on the side. It can be a symbol, a series of letters or numbers, or a combination of both.
  2. Check for a country of origin: Some pottery will have a marking that indicates where it was made. This can be a country name, such as “England” or “Japan,” or it can be a symbol or initials that represent a specific pottery region.
  3. Inspect the pottery for other labels or stickers: In addition to maker’s marks, pottery may have labels or stickers that provide more information about its origin or age. These labels can be found on the bottom, side, or even inside the pottery.

It’s important to note that not all vintage pottery will have markings or labels. Some older pieces may have worn away or been removed over time. However, if you do find markings or labels, they can be valuable in dating and identifying the pottery.

Once you have found any markings or labels, you can use online resources, books, or pottery identification guides to research and learn more about the pottery’s age and maker.

Research the Manufacturer or Artist

Once you have identified the pottery piece as potentially vintage, the next step is to research the manufacturer or artist. This can provide valuable information about the age, origin, and value of the piece.

1. Look for identifying marks: Start by examining the pottery for any marks or signatures. These can include a manufacturer’s logo, an artist’s signature, or a specific marking indicating the place of production. Note down any markings you find as they will be helpful in your research.

2. Use reference books and online resources: There are many reference books and online resources available that provide information about various pottery manufacturers and artists. Look for books or websites dedicated to the specific type of pottery you are researching. These resources can help you identify the manufacturer or artist and learn more about their style, history, and value.

3. Consult collectors or experts: Seek advice from experienced collectors or experts in vintage pottery. Join online forums or social media groups dedicated to pottery collecting and ask for help in identifying your piece. These knowledgeable individuals can share their expertise and provide valuable insights into the manufacturer or artist of your pottery.

4. Visit antique shops or museums: Consider visiting antique shops or local museums that specialize in pottery. These places often have knowledgeable staff who can help you identify your piece and provide information about the manufacturer or artist. They may also have catalogs or other reference materials that could aid in your research.

5. Take note of typical characteristics: Learn about the typical characteristics of pottery from different manufacturers or artists. This can include specific glazes, colors, patterns, or design elements that are commonly associated with their work. Compare these characteristics to your piece to get a better idea of its origin and age.

6. Keep an eye out for fakes: Remember that there are counterfeit or reproduction pottery pieces in the market. Be cautious of sellers who claim that a piece is vintage or rare without providing proper documentation or evidence. Researching the manufacturer or artist can help you spot potential fakes and avoid purchasing misrepresented items.

By researching the manufacturer or artist, you can gain valuable insights into the age, origin, and value of the pottery piece. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions when buying or selling vintage pottery.

Check for Signs of Age or Wear

Examining the pottery for signs of age or wear is an important step in determining if it is vintage or not. Here are some key things to look for:

  • Crazing: Look for fine lines or cracks on the surface of the pottery. Crazing is a network of cracks that occurs as pottery ages and the glaze shrinks. It is a common sign of vintage pottery.
  • Color Fading: Vintage pottery may show signs of color fading due to exposure to sunlight or other environmental factors over time. Compare the colors on the pottery to reference photos or similar pieces to determine if it has faded.
  • Wear on Bottom: Check the bottom of the pottery for signs of wear. Vintage pieces may have wear marks from being used or displayed over the years. Scratches, scuff marks, or discoloration can be indicators of age.
  • Pattern or Design: Research the patterns or designs used by the pottery manufacturer during the time period you suspect the piece is from. Compare the design on the pottery to reference materials to see if it matches the vintage style.
  • Imperfections: Vintage pottery may have small imperfections such as irregular shapes, uneven glazing, or rough edges. These imperfections are often a sign of handmade or older production methods.

By carefully examining the pottery for signs of age or wear, you can gain valuable insights into its vintage status. It is important to note that these signs can vary depending on the specific pottery manufacturer and time period, so conducting thorough research is crucial for accurate identification.

Compare the Pottery to Reference Books or Online Resources

One way to determine if pottery is vintage is to compare it to reference books or online resources. This can help you identify specific patterns, markings, or styles that are characteristic of vintage pottery.

Start by checking if there are any books or online catalogs available that specialize in vintage pottery. These resources often provide detailed information about different pottery makers, their marks, and the time periods in which they were active.

When comparing the pottery to reference materials, pay attention to the following:

  • Markings: Look for any pottery marks or signatures on the bottom or back of the piece. These markings can provide valuable clues about the maker and the age of the pottery.
  • Patterns and Styles: Study the patterns and styles of the pottery. Vintage pottery often features unique and intricate designs that may be specific to a certain time period or pottery maker.
  • Colors and Glazes: Examine the colors and glazes of the pottery. Vintage pottery may have certain colors or glaze techniques that are characteristic of a particular era or pottery maker.

Additionally, online forums and collector groups dedicated to vintage pottery can be valuable resources. These communities often have members who are knowledgeable about different pottery makers and can provide guidance or additional information.

Keep in mind that identifying vintage pottery can be challenging, especially if there are no clear markings or reference materials available. It may require some research and expert opinions to determine the age and authenticity of a piece of pottery.

Consult with Experts or Collectors

If you are unsure about the authenticity or vintage of a piece of pottery, it is always a good idea to consult with experts or collectors who have experience in the field. These individuals are knowledgeable and can help you determine the age and value of the pottery you have.

Here are some steps you can take to consult with experts or collectors:

  1. Join online forums or discussion groups: There are numerous online communities dedicated to pottery collecting. Joining these communities will give you access to a wealth of knowledge and allow you to interact with experienced collectors. You can post pictures of your pottery and ask for opinions and advice.
  2. Attend antique shows and pottery fairs: Antique shows and pottery fairs are great places to meet experts and collectors in person. Many events have experts available to provide appraisals and answer questions about pottery.
  3. Visit antique shops and galleries: Antique shops and galleries often have experts on staff who can help you determine the vintage and value of a piece of pottery. They may also be able to provide information on the history and origin of the piece.
  4. Reach out to museums or historical societies: Museums and historical societies frequently have specialized departments or staff members who are knowledgeable about pottery. Contact them to see if they can provide any information or suggestions.
  5. Join pottery collecting clubs or organizations: Pottery collecting clubs or organizations can be a valuable resource for finding experts and collectors. These groups often organize meetings, workshops, and events where you can learn more about pottery and connect with others who share your interest.

Remember to approach experts and collectors with respect and a willingness to learn. They are typically passionate about their subject and eager to share their knowledge. Be prepared to provide clear pictures and any relevant information about the pottery when seeking their advice.

Consider the Rarity and Desirability of the Pottery

When determining if pottery is vintage, it is important to consider its rarity and desirability. Rare and highly sought-after pieces of pottery are often more valuable and likely to be vintage.

Here are a few factors to consider when determining the rarity and desirability of pottery:

  • Manufacturer: Research the manufacturer of the pottery. Some manufacturers are well-known for producing highly desirable pieces of pottery, making their vintage items more valuable.
  • Designer: Look for pottery designed by renowned artists or designers. Pieces created by famous designers are typically more desirable and sought after by collectors.
  • Pattern or Style: Certain patterns or styles of pottery may be more rare and desirable than others. Unique or limited edition patterns are more likely to be vintage, as they were only produced for a limited time.
  • Age: The age of the pottery is a key factor in its rarity. Generally, older pottery is more difficult to find and therefore more valuable.
  • Condition: The condition of the pottery also affects its desirability. Pottery in excellent condition with no major flaws or damage is typically more sought after by collectors.

By considering the rarity and desirability of the pottery, you can better determine if it is vintage. Collectors and experts in the field can provide additional guidance on specific pieces and their value.

Get a Professional Appraisal

If you’re still uncertain about the authenticity or value of a vintage pottery piece despite conducting your own research, it may be time to seek the help of a professional appraiser. An appraiser is an expert in the field of antique and vintage pottery and can provide you with an accurate assessment of your item’s origins, age, and value.

Here are a few steps to follow when getting a professional appraisal for your vintage pottery:

  1. Research reputable appraisers: Start by researching reputable appraisers who specialize in pottery. Look for those who have a good track record and are recognized in the field.
  2. Check qualifications: Make sure the appraiser you choose has the necessary qualifications and certifications. Look for appraisers who are members of recognized appraisal organizations.
  3. Contact the appraiser: Reach out to the appraiser and provide them with detailed information about your vintage pottery piece. They may ask for photographs or additional details to help them evaluate the item.
  4. Schedule an appraisal: Set up a time for the appraiser to physically examine the pottery. This can be done in person or through photos and videos, depending on the appraiser’s preferences and expertise.
  5. Prepare for the appraisal: Clean the pottery piece gently, making sure not to use any harsh chemicals or scrub too vigorously. Take detailed photographs and notes about any markings, signatures, or unique features.
  6. Attend the appraisal: If the appraisal is done in person, make sure to be present during the evaluation. This will allow you to ask questions and gain a better understanding of the appraiser’s findings.
  7. Receive the appraisal report: After the appraisal is complete, the appraiser will provide you with a detailed report outlining their findings. This document should include information about the item’s authenticity, age, condition, and estimated value.

Remember that getting a professional appraisal can be an investment, as appraisers often charge a fee for their services. However, it can be well worth it to gain a comprehensive and accurate assessment of your vintage pottery.

By following these steps and consulting with a professional appraiser, you can confidently determine if your pottery is truly vintage and gain valuable insights into its origins and value.


What is considered vintage pottery?

Vintage pottery refers to pottery that was made during a specific time period in the past, usually at least 20 years ago. It is valued for its age, craftsmanship, and historical significance.

How can I determine the age of a piece of pottery?

Determining the age of a piece of pottery can be done by examining its characteristics such as the style, color, glaze, and markings. Additionally, researching the maker’s history and comparing it to known examples from different time periods can also help in determining its age.

What are some clues that pottery is vintage?

Clues that pottery is vintage include the presence of certain characteristics such as a matte glaze, imperfections and irregularities in the shape or design, and signs of wear and tear. Additionally, markings or stamps on the pottery that indicate the maker and a specific time period can also be a clue.

Are there any specific markings on vintage pottery that I should look for?

Yes, there are several specific markings on vintage pottery that can indicate its age and origin. These include the maker’s marks, backstamps, and labels, which can provide important information about the piece. Researching and comparing these markings to known examples can help in determining the age and value of the pottery.

Secrets to Find & Value Antique Ceramics by Dr. Lori

Hand Painted or Transfer Printed? How to tell the difference with antique pottery & porcelain

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *