antique porcelain

All posts in the antique porcelain category

Antique Bavaria, R.S. Prussia, and Austria Porcelain.

Published September 16, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1


I know, don’t make it a habit. Don’t eat off of them. Don’t drink from those gorgeous delicate Bavaria tea cups, and steer clear of those antique silver plate Demi spoons and put that antique Demitasse cup back as it was. You can appreciate it with your eyes, just not your taste buds. It was once called The Rich Man’s curse because only the rich fell ill with lead-poisoning from porcelain dishes they used everyday back in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

It was at the antique store a while back where I discovered a demi-cup (not a bra), a Demitasse cup for drinking espresso coffee that was usually served after supper. Prices vary for antique dishes. Sometimes you might get lucky and find a near complete set of beautiful antique pristine dishes for dirt cheap.


And where did I find out about it being a ‘rich man’s curse’? I actually had to do a lot of research on this topic of antique porcelain dishes to find this out. Way back in the Victorian era and I’m going to include the Edwardians in this as well since high society tended to drink and eat from gold-painted and hand-painted porcelain dishes. Those crazed, dusty, often times, aged antique porcelain dishes that appear too fragile to even look at with an undecided glance are what I’m talking about. The kind of dishes that would have given our ancestors lead poisoning in accumulative doses over time.

However, the low income Victorians and even the Edwardians did not have disposable incomes to throw around in their time when these antique dishes were brand new, so they more than likely ate and drank from inferior table wear and/ or tin cups perhaps.

The most expensive antique porcelain I’ve come across recently was stamped R.S. Prussia, which I later discovered, is incredibly scarce to find in mint and flawless condition nowadays. Even at that, expect to pay upwards of $85 for one sugar container that has no signs of crazing under the glaze, no chips, no cracks, and no blemishes, etc. I’ve even scoured eBay for price comparisons and was shocked by the higher prices for similar near complete sets of antique R.S. Prussia porcelain. I assume the prices reflect the era in which they were made somewhere between 1847-1914. Well, when pigs fly or if I ever win the lottery, then I might upgrade to some exquisite antique R.S. Prussia China.

I’m a little wiser now than I was a year ago in terms of collecting antique porcelain dishes and what to look for. I know to avoid using those gold-rimmed tea cups, plates, saucers, bread plates, oh and tea tiles. Excuse me?

I believe they were once called ‘tea tiles’ back in the 1800’s and a pot of steeped tea would be placed on the tile like a trivet. I don’t know when the tea tile fell out of fashion. In fact, I had no idea tea tiles existed until just recently when I laid eyes on a set of Bavaria stamped antique dishes and discovered a few miscellaneous tea tiles placed in with other misc. antique dishes.

Do I plan to use these antique Bavaria dishes? No. They will be for display until I can do further research. And since they’re one of a kind I may display them in a inset book shelf. I scoured the net and came across some porcelain collectors’ blogs describing in length what to avoid when buying/collecting antique porcelain dishes and whether or not they’re safe for everyday use. The verdict on how safe they are is still very up in the air and there’s a lot of inconclusive answers floating around.

The very early makers of porcelain dishes may have maker’s stamps, or they might not have any markings. Transferware is nice. However, it didn’t call to me nor does it ‘fit’ in my Victorian-themed porcelain dishes. My heart and eyes were set on that particular ‘Bavaria’ porcelain set that included a covered butter dish with pink roses. And it was pristine white. Can’t beat that. There were no chips, no cracks, no crazing under the glaze, no stains, but one or two dark spots likely from when it was produced and trapped under the glaze.

And that wraps up my antique dishes blog post. I do apologize if I’m unable to blog as often as I used to on here, but will continue to do so as my new schedule permits. I will continue to answer all comments on here like always, but there might be a delay due to my work load. Please keep checking back for more interesting antiques I might happen across. As always thank you for commenting, re-blogging, sharing, tweeting and liking. I always appreciate it. 🙂





Transferware: the beautiful antique dinnerware

Published November 30, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

Now this says: eat, drink, and be merry. However, caution prevails, nagging at my better senses to do some exhaustive research on the particular dinnerware.

Before I knew it was called ‘Transferware’ I had no idea how to describe that particular pattern and the knock-offs that look like extremely fancy painted china. Okay, it is china. It’s antique porcelain. It’s antique (______) fill in the blank with whatever comes to mind. It comes in massive quantities of red, blue, green, purple, brown, black. The depictions vary. The age of the dinnerware can be difficult to pin point to a certain era. All I know is it began with a fragment I dug out of my garden bed this summer. Ironically enough, it isn’t as thick as the other Transferware I discovered in the antique stores. It could have been a tea cup since I did find a partial handle painted bright blue over white, the glaze still bright after being buried since who knew when in my backyard.
So with what little I did have to go on I reviewed some of similar dinnerware at the antique stores and looked at the dealer’s label: “Transferware- English”. I made a mental note and went home to clack the keys.
Gorgeous would be an understatement. The different designs and dishes are almost too beautiful to use. But some collectors do use them for special occasions. What about potential lead poisoning? Don’t all antique dinnerware contain ungodly amounts of lead in them? It depends on the dishes.
If you’re a firm believer of what the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) advises about the lead content in such dishes made before the administrations founding forty-years ago, they advise to avoid using crazed antique dishes (although they call it ‘cracking’), cracked, chipped or damaged dinnerware. This could allow the lead (if any) to leech into the food and make a person ill. Especially bad would be to drink or eat anything acidic and this is a HUGE NO-NO even by antique dish collectors. Anything acidic like tomato products, orange juice, acidic fruits can eat away at the glaze.
Will it be red, blue, green? And is it microwave safe? NO. And I will use all caps on the word ‘no’. These antique dishes aren’t meant to go in a microwave, dishwasher or even a conventional oven. Because the transfer pattern is delicate and the glaze of unknown origin (I’ll assume), I wouldn’t ever subject this particular dinnerware to our harsh, speedy ways of serving up meals nowadays and letting a dishwasher do the rest.
I lean more towards the red Transferware. However, if I come across any other that I like better I may opt for it if it’s a.) not cracked, chipped, or worn. b.) if the glaze shows no signs of crazing, and c.) if the design and color catches my eye. It will not only have to be delicate-looking, but very stately and rich. And the silent statement it needs to echo: “I’m a damn fine antique!”
Undoubtedly it’s beautiful. It displays well. It fits all budgets and best of all, it’s saved from being dumped off in a landfill. Can’t say the same for paper plates and Styrofoam cups.
Where was Transferware made? In England, the Staffordshire region. It was produced sometime during the mid- 18th century. The process involves pottery being stamped with a transfer from a copper print, to a exact sized paper and applied to the pottery. Transferware is also found on bone China, Porcelain, and ironstone. Although typically it is seen on earthenware. Some antique dealers will label it as: “Staffordshire”. But beginner beware there’s A LOT of Japan made Transferware out there too. This is easy to tell the difference as the name “Japan” will be stamped on the bottom of cups, saucers and plates and it will be of thick, kinda chunky quality and less appealing in my personal opinion.
What do I love most about it? It’s plentiful even if the patterns don’t match. And here again, I wouldn’t pay too much for them. I love the Bavaria China tea cups and saucers and Butter pats (small dishes for serving butter), but here again, the gold paint worried me as did any possible lead poisoning. I’m speaking in terms of heavy metals toxicity in the gold paint, although I have noticed that it does wash off easily. But I see so much gold-painted China at the antique stores that it turns me away even as a potential buyer of antique China. If you have anything to add in the comments, please do. Again, thanks for liking, commenting, re-blogging, sharing. I truly appreciate it. 🙂

Porcelain, part 2:

Published May 12, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

Various porcelain dishes, salt and pepper shaker.

One thing about old antique porcelain, sure it looks great. But I’d caution against using it for every day dishes. It’s pretty to collect and that’s about it. The salt and pepper shakers pictured are stamped Bavaria. The tea pot in the far back, saucers and cups are from an era unknown. The tea cups to the right with saucers suffer a bad case of crazing and yellowing. The two serving plates in the back I have no idea what era those date to.
I snapped the picture a while back. I did come across some Fiesta ware, but never touch the stuff. Why? Because some of the Fiesta ware, especially the red glazed variety can contain heavy metals and other nasty toxins. Many years ago back in 1995 I caught a segment of a TV show where people would come on a show and ask an appraiser how much their collections were valued at and if anybody was interested in buying their item(s). This wasn’t an episode of “Antiques Road Show”, I simply forget the name of the program since its been eons ago and that’s where I first heard about the heavy metals in porcelain, especially in Fiesta ware, oh and I believe Fiesta ware is radioactive, yikes!
This is probably all for my porcelain installment. I don’t plan to collect it since a lot of it is questionable at best and it would just be another thing to take up space. Thanks for reading and please keep checking back.

Bavaria Porcelain: delicate and elegant, but…

Published May 7, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

Perhaps I’m going way overboard on any potential health concerns when purchasing antique porcelain dishes, tea cups, saucers, bread plates, and those oh so cute salt and pepper shakers with gold painted detailing.

Why the concern then? From what I’ve researched some of the glaze and paints they used back during the turn of the last Twentieth century may contain lead, radium (in gold paint) and other nasty heavy metals that they either didn’t know much about or did know and figured the glaze over porcelain would act as a barrier. Mind you, I surmise this, I don’t know this as fact.

Why waste money on old porcelain tea cups, saucers, bread plates, etc.? Well, perhaps there’s other uses for this old porcelain, say for example, change cups to keep pocket change in, hair pin receivers, jewelry/ trinket boxes (I find that small sugar dishes with their lids work well for this purpose). I guess it reflects a nostalgia for something forgotten, overlooked, antique and just plain unique.

Then again, perhaps I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill when compared to the lead-laden toys on the market today that have questionable chemicals at best and reek to high heaven in some cases. And then again, maybe it’s a sense of lost craftsmanship that rarely, if ever, surfaces in every day dishes made nowadays.

Have I ever turned up a modern dinner plate and tea cups with elaborate flower patterns with gold trim around the handles or rims of soup bowls and bread plates? No.

I have come across a slew of new designs that might appeal to a young(er) crowd, but for a person such as myself who constantly sees everything with a familiar sticker, “Made in China” or ‘Chemicals used in this product are known to the state of California to cause reproductive harm, cancer, etc.’ makes me yearn for something far removed from my time that displays well, shows elegance (maybe even a touch of high class in old-fashioned terms), and makes great conversation starters.

I can only go by what I have in my collection now which likely dates anywhere from the 1900s to the early 20’s. Perhaps earlier than that. And what I’ve found from digging through boxes of dirty porcelain to extract each cup, saucer, snack plate, bowl, is that more often than not crazing is a huge no-no. Why? Because it means that the porcelain item is likely weak or has microscopic imperfections where the glaze didn’t entirely fill in a gap and water, dirt, bacteria hides deep.

I haven’t had any success cleaning porcelain dishes that suffer from terrible crazing issues. I did read an article in a local paper back in 2007 that listed a very good remedy on how to make porcelain bright. The article stated to very gently place the porcelain dish in a solution of cool water and a cap full of hydrogen peroxide, let it soak and then wash and dry it off. This will bring out the luster of the aged porcelain but will do nothing to clean whatever is trapped under the glaze. I curtailed my collection until I can get around to doing a little bit more extensive research on antique porcelain. I especially heard that the porcelain plates with gold and silver trimmed-finishes can have lead in them, these dishes I can picture in my mind were likely made in the 1940s or somewhere in that time frame.

So keep in mind when shopping your local thrift stores, yard sales, flea markets, antique malls, examine that porcelain dish carefully before you buy it. My best advice is to steer clear of crazed, dirty, cracked or chipped porcelain dishes. If you try to wash porcelain by hand that’s cracked (even a tiny chip), it could shatter. It’s happened to me a number of times. Thankfully I didn’t give very much for it and never buy it if the asking price is more than $5.

What you might want to look for is bright white porcelain dishes, tea cups, soup bowls, bread plates, dinner plates, etc. Hold the item up to the light. Does the floral pattern appear unglazed? (that is if it has an elaborate pattern). Since the paints they used way back when were very different (some even more toxic than what’s on today’s market), my main concern would be potential lead poisoning. The second question I ask myself: Do I or would I plan to put anything acidic in this soup bowl, for example? Citrus and tomato products are high in acid and might even eat away at that stunning floral pattern. Again, however, I’m no expert and this is just a learning experience for me when it comes to antique porcelain dishes. They sure are beautiful and make a nice statement.

And again I remind myself, I don’t need it because the likelihood that I would serve more than myself or host a lavish dinner party is highly unlikely. Long gone are the days when hosting lavish dinner parties included cooking for twenty or more guests. Besides I’d really hate to be the scullery maid.

Keep checking back for new blogs. Thanks for reading. 🙂

Tea for two, anyone?

Tea for two, anyone?