Antique Ceramics & Porcelain

Some of the most beautiful objects you can have for your home are antique porcelain and ceramics. Long ago, someone learned that clay fired at high temperatures could be turned into something not only useful but pleasing to the eye.

What is the difference between ceramics and porcelain?

Porcelain is a type of ceramic, but not all ceramics are porcelain. The clay to make porcelain is mixed with a fine white powder called kaolin and fired at very high temperatures, which makes it nonporous. Though porcelain is thinner and lighter than some other types of ceramic, it is stronger. Porcelain tile can be made anywhere that clay, kaolin and high-firing kilns are available. Other kinds of ceramic that are available include:

  • Stoneware. Like porcelain, stoneware is fired at high temperatures, which vitrifies it. It is one of the oldest types of ceramic.
  • Ironstone. This is a type of stoneware, first manufactured in England. It is mass produced and made to bear up under daily use.
  • Bone china. This type of very fine ceramic is actually made with bone ash.
  • Transferware. These type of ceramics often have scenes that werent hand painted but printed on the item. The first ink was cobalt blue, but as the technique improved inks of red, green, brown, purple, and yellow were used.
What is a Ming vase?

A Ming is a vase made during the Chinese Ming dynasty, which lasted from 1368 to 1643, or a vase made in that style. Because the dynasty lasted as long as it did, the vases from different periods have different styles. A vase from the period ruled by Emperor Wan Li can have a mei ping shape and be covered with blue and white decorations. A mei ping-shaped vase has a narrow mouth, a wide, round centre, and a narrow pedestal. It is made to hold one flower.

How do you clean antique pottery?
  • Dust them once a week or so with a soft, lint free cloth.
  • Take care when you immerse an antique ceramic or porcelain in water. The piece may have been repaired earlier and immersion in water can weaken the repair.
  • If the piece has been repaired, just wash it gently with mild, soapy water. Rinse and dry it thoroughly.
  • If you are going to wash your ceramic or porcelain item in the sink, lay a terry cloth towel at the bottom to guard against chipping. Another idea is to wash the item in a small, plastic tub.
  • Do not use chlorine bleach on ceramics or painted porcelain.
  • Do not put an antique ceramic in the dishwasher.
How can you identify antique pottery?

One way to identify ceramics is to look for marks somewhere on the piece. These marks tell you who made the piece. For example, the basic mark on a piece of Wedgwood porcelain is an amphora with the name Wedgwood beneath it. England was added in 1891, and Made in England was added beginning in 1910. However, if youre not sure, you can take your antique to an appraiser.

What type of antique ceramics are available?

Ceramics include:

  • Cups and saucers - Often made of fine porcelain or bone china, these items are exquisitely decorated, and some have gold trim or accents.
  • Figurines - Ceramic figurines can be animals, children, shepherds and shepherdesses, or abstract figures.
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Tea sets
  • Decorative tile