What Collectors Should Know About Fine English Bone China Tea Sets
By Ruthie Calderon
Bone china is highly regarded as one of the finest types of collectible dishware. Admired by those with discerning taste for both its beauty and surprising durability, these lightweight pieces have come to be associated with royalty and other people of high social standing. Buyers who are interested in purchasing fine English bone china tea sets
should follow these guidelines in order to find exactly what they are looking for.
There are several different brands of bone china tea sets available on the market. Each has its own unique styling and signature patterns associated with it, and this is largely a matter of personal preference on the behalf of the one doing the purchasing. Some of these also fall into the vintage or antique category and can be worth considerably more.
The percentage of cow bone ash the china is made up of determines its quality. The top tier pieces contain between 30 and 45 percent. Two firings are applied to fine bone china, as opposed to regular china which only receives one. First a standard firing is done, followed by a second one during which a protective glazing is applied to give the dishes improved strength and break-resistance. Occasionally flaws occur during this process, which collectors should watch out for prior to purchasing a set.
Sets come in different sizes as well. The largest piece, the teapot itself, can have a capacity of anywhere from one cup to three liters, with most being one or two liters. Some sets may include more cups and saucers than others as well as additional pieces such as serving plates, creamer and sugar bowl etc.
There are a wide range of styles and colors of tea sets for sale on the collector’s market to match every preference. Some may have a favorite make they wish to stick with, or they may be looking to buy a set that fits in nicely with other dishes they already own. Designs may feature subdued, solid colors, intricate patterns, or something in between these.
If someone owns an antique set, having it appraised is advisable since this is the only way to get an accurate picture of its value. The number of pieces and their size is a primary factor affecting the price of the set. Sometimes they actually sell for more money on a per item basis than they do as full set, unless that is what the buyer is specifically after.
The overall condition of the set plays a big role in its value. Even minor imperfections such as cracks, chips, and discolored spots, can negatively impact the worth. A “backstamp” is a mark which indicates the manufacturer and sometimes the name of the pattern too, this can also be particularly helpful for determining its date of manufacture.
Given the gentle care and handling it deserves, bone china tea sets can be enjoyed as family heirlooms for years to come. If it is only used on occasion, in a cautious manner it will stand a better chance of being around for longer. No abrasive cleaning product or technique should be used, just dish soap and water, and no aggressive scrubbing actions.
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