How To Verify the Value of a Fine Bone China Dinnerware

September 22, 2021

If you are like me, you grew up in a household where your mother had fine china dinnerware that was only used for special occasions. However, some people take fine china appreciation to another level. There is a kind of porcelain called fine bone china which was created in England (more on that later) and which contains bone ash. And fine bone china can be priceless. So, how do you verify the value of a fine bone china dinnerware set?

What is Fine Bone China?

If you want to learn how to verify the value of fine bone china dinnerware, it’s important to first learn how to differentiate between fine china and bone china.

(Don’t get too caught up with the word “fine.” “Fine,” is usually used to denote a level of artisan quality.)

Fine china is basically a Chinese version of porcelain made with a white clay called kaolin.

And kaolin isn’t just any kind of white clay.  It is a special kind of white clay that is made from decomposing granite rock.

Fine china was first created in Tang Dynasty China in the 7th or 8th century. The Tang Dynasty era of China is well known for being the world envy of art, culture, and artisan-created products fit for royalty – like fine chinaware.

Ironically, fine bone china was actually created in England in the mid-1700s.

No one knows for certain how fine bone china came into being. Legend has it that a porcelain artisan who lived near cattle slaughterhouses and markets began utilizing bone as an ingredient in the manufacturing process.

Yes, fine bone china actually contains bone ash particulates, hence the name.

The Fine Bone China Manufacturing Process

To verify the value of a fine bone china dinnerware set, you should know this information, so bear with me.

Fine bone china is also known as bone china or bone porcelain. And the process to create fine bone china is basically the same as creating fine china with one difference – the inclusion of bone ash material.

The ingredient list to manufacture fine bone china could include but isn’t limited to:

  • Kaolin (white clay)
  • Feldspar (some kind of ground rock or stone)
  • Silica
  • Ground glass
  • Bone ash

Fine bone china must contain at least 30% to 45% of bone ashes made from cow or pig bones.

After the mixing process, fine bone china is then fired in a two-step firing process. The first firing shrinks the plate or cup by 20%. And then the second firing sets the glaze that was pre-applied.

Many pieces of fine bone china crack or are ruined in the firing process. Some pieces of fine bone china can be fired up to five times.

Exacting ingredients and the manufacturing process is what makes fine bone china look aesthetically like it was made for royalty.

Since you want to learn how to verify the value of a fine bone china dinnerware set, here is what to look for.

How to Verify the Value of a Fine Bone China Dinnerware

The problem with learning how to verify the value of fine bone china dinnerware is that you need an expert eye.

The priciest fine bona china is either antique or priceless family heirlooms that were passed down for generations.

For example, one of the most valuable fine bone china to sell at auction is the Joseon Baekje, the vase which sold for $4.2 million.

So, unless you buy your fine bone china from antique dealers, it may not be worth millions.

But let’s say that you bought some fine bone china and you think it’s valuable. The best way to verify the value of a fine bone china dinnerware is to get it authenticated by a professional appraiser.

But before you do that, here is a cheat sheet of value verification techniques you can use.

Translucency

The percentage of bone ash and the firing process makes fine bone china translucent. Hold it to the light and put a finger in or behind the china – you should be able to see your finger’s silhouette.

In other words, the light should travel through the fine bone china piece with no problem. Fine china is opaque in comparison.

Color

Fine china is usually of white color. Fine bone china is milky, ivory, and off-white colored, not really white.

Brand

Learning how to verify the value of a fine bone china dinnerware set is one situation where generic brands won’t do.

And you need to know the expensive and elegant brand names in fine bone china to learn how to verify them.

If the fine bone china manufacturer’s branding on the product doesn’t say Bernahaud, Caskata, Flora Danica, Herend, or Merdard De Noblat, then it isn’t antique level valuable.

Design

Fine bone china pieces are more intricately and ornately designed aesthetically than fine china. Fine bone china can look like museum pieces – and many are featured in museums.

Get Professional Advice

The best way to authenticate your fine bone china is to consult a professional chinaware appraiser or collector.

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