Explore the World of Vintage Porcelain

While any kind of tableware can set your dining room table, vintage porcelain adds a unique style and beauty to any home. Whether you collect vintage porcelain pieces for practical reasons or use those pieces purely for decoration, collecting vintage porcelain can be a fun and fascinating hobby. Collecting old pieces of tableware and drinking vessels is a great way to relive the history of bygone eras and learn about history.

Vintage Porcelain
Vintage Porcelain

As with any type of collecting it is a good idea for would be porcelain collectors to learn as much as they can about the various makers of vintage porcelain. Some makers are more collectable and more desirable than others, but all types of porcelain have their fans.

Limoges Porcelain

Limoges is one of the most famous types of vintage porcelain, and one of the most collectable as well.  The Limoges porcelain collectors seek was created in the Limoges region of France, starting in the late 1700s and running through the 1930s. While the Limoges region continued to make porcelain pieces after the 1930s the style changed markedly due to the global downturn in the economy. The previously elaborate porcelain pieces created in the Limoges region of France gave way to simpler and more basic designs in response to the new reality of the global economy.

Dozens of different companies were involved in the creation of Limoges porcelain pieces at the height of its popularity.  In the 1920s some four dozen companies were involved in the creation of fine porcelain pieces. While most of the pieces produced by these factories were marked Limoges, many of those makers also marked their pieces with their own factory seals, and it is important for porcelain collectors to look for these marks as well.

Royal Doulton Porcelain

Royal Doulton is another famous name in the world of vintage porcelain, and these pieces are highly desired by collectors. These pieces take their name from John Doulton, who helped to found a ceramics company in England. The company created a number of decorative objects, and they soon developed a reputation as one of the finest makers in the world. It was not long before the fine pieces created by the company got the attention of the British Royal family, and Doulton porcelain soon became a favorite with royalty.

By the late 1880s John Doulton was producing the highest quality porcelain products and other fine wares for clients around the world. During this time Doulton won many honors attesting to his ability as a maker of fine porcelain, and he was producing a wide variety of porcelain pieces, not only tableware but fine porcelain figurines, vases and other decorative objects. These pieces were done not only in classic white but in bold vibrant colors as well, and this colorfulness helped to make them some of the most popular pieces in the world.

Flow Blue Porcelain

Flow Blue has long been a well known name in the world of fine vintage porcelain, and it is a real favorite among both new and experienced collectors. The history of Flow Blue porcelain dates back to the beginning of the 17th century, when the western world began to get its first glimpse of the wonders of the East, particularly China. Examples of fine Chinese porcelain began to be seen in the Western world, and this fine porcelain was very expensive. Only the finest homes could afford such fine pieces, and those pieces of Chinese porcelain were highly sought after by the era’s elites.

This fine Chinese porcelain had a number of distinguishing characteristics, but perhaps the most notable was its deep blue color. These Chinese porcelain pieces were distinguished by their blue hand painted designs, often depicting exotic Eastern elements like pagodas on a brilliant white background. This deep blue color was derived from cobalt oxide, which had been widely used in China for centuries.

By the mid-18th century the English had perfected the use of cobalt oxide in their own porcelain, and they began to produce excellent replicas of those finely crafted Chinese porcelain pieces.  The new techniques employed by these English potters significantly lowered the cost of fine blue porcelain, allowing the middle classes to finally have access to these beautiful and highly desirable pieces.


Transferware is a fascinating type of porcelain, and one with a long and storied history. Like Flow Blue porcelain, Transferware has its roots in the desire for a more affordable kind of porcelain. Until these production methods came along fine porcelain was a luxury that only the wealthiest could afford, and the middle classes were clamoring for a way to afford these beautiful pieces. While Flow Blue porcelain created an affordable alternative to high priced Chinese blue porcelain, Transferware provided a new way to create those fine pieces. Before transfer painting was invented, each set of tableware had to be painstakingly painted and decorated by hand, a costly and labor intensive process. Transfer painting allowed the pieces to be created in a more automated way, which in turn lowered the cost of production and made the pieces more affordable.

Some of the earliest Transferware pieces were done in Chinese style, with bold blue painting on a white background. Of these early pieces the Blue Willow pattern was one of the most popular, and this pattern is still highly desirable and very collectable.  Some of the best known Transferware makers included Ridgway, Spode, Wedgewood and Johnson Brothers, and these makers are often seen in the vintage porcelain market. Some of the most highly collectable Transferware porcelain pieces in today’s market are two-tone, including the classic blue and white, red and white and brown and white.

No matter what your taste and style chances are you will be able to find some fine porcelain pieces to start your collection off right. If you have always wanted to find a unique way to bring the power of living history into your home, vintage porcelain collecting is a great choice. Not only are these pieces lovely examples of fine craftsmanship but they can be practical pieces of tableware as well.

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